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• c^ 

BY , <- . 



With Numerous Illustrations 



[All rights reserved] 

Printed by Ballantyne, Hanson 6* Co. 
At the Ballantyne Press 




{with permission) 

His Grace 


It has been said, and with justice, that although 
numberless works, historical, biographical, and 
anecdotic, have dealt with the great Duke of 
Wellington, his true life has yet to be written. I 
make no pretence in these pages to fill the gap ; 
I offer them only as a small contribution to a fuller 
and more just estimate of one of the greatest 
captains, the most honest and loyal citizens and 
statesmen, that have served this country. It is not 
too much to advance, here, that for some years 
past the Duke^s reputation has been under partial 
eclipse. The least admirable traits in his character 
have been unduly emphasised ; we are told he was 
harsh, unsympathetic, ungrateful ; without strong 
affection, whether as a son or a father; taking all 
to his own credit, passing on little praise and 
fame to those who chiefly helped him to his great 



I have now essayed, anxiously if imperfectly, to 
combat this narrow and most unfair view ; to give, 
as I believe, a more faithful picture of the man, 
based upon his achievements. I have set them 
forward, so far as I was competent, on broad lines, 
and in no more detail than was essential to illus- 
trate his brilliant career ; I have endeavoured to 
show him as he was, a host in himself, courageous, 
self-reliant, sanguine and tenacious in the darkest 
hour, undismayed by any odds, however great, rising 
superior to and overcoming every difficulty. His 
fine generalship, strategic and tactical, his consum- 
mate mastery of administrative business, his in- 
defatigable labours, his inexhaustible patience, so 
sharply contrasted with unerring promptitude when 
the time for action came, have been treated briefly, 
but, I hope, with due appreciation. We shall see 
him bearing his almost crushing burthen alone, with 
little or no backing from home, hampered often by 
incompetent agents and the questionable support 
of feeble allies ; see him building up and gradually 
perfecting, by his own unstinting effort, the military 
machine that was wanting in so much, both in the 
personnel and the matdriel, keeping a firm hand on 
the wild spirits who too often showed more courage 



than discipline, guiding and forming his officers 
by precept and example into skilled and trusty 

It is fitting that the best pupils of his school 
should also find place in this memorial to his great 
worth ; and I have taken due account of some of his 
chief supporters — of such excellent soldiers as Hill, 
Beresford, Picton, Cotton, Pakenham, Cole, and 
many more ; men who won well-deserved renown 
under his orders, and, later, often gained fresh 
laurels on various distant fields. 

I have devoted principal attention to Wellington 
in his military aspect, as the most remarkable, and 
most within my own competence to deal with ; but 
I have not overlooked his great political services. 
I have wished also to present a general view of 
his personal character, to exhibit his individual 
traits and qualities, and describe them with suffi- 
cient minuteness to show up into strong relief his 
unfailing sense of duty, his uprightness, his direct- 
ness of purpose, his clear and abiding common- 
sense. This is an age of revivals, and I venture 
to claim for this memorial, that it is a new move 
towards strengthening, indeed rehabilitating, Wel- 
lington in the esteem of his fellow-countrymen. 


I must here gratefully acknowledge the ample 
facilities for the reproduction of pictures in Apsley 
House so kindly afforded by his Grace the Duke 
of Wellington, and his generous sympathy with 
this small tribute to the memory of his illustrious 






Birth - Childhood — School — Enters army — Youthful zeal — 
Rapid promotion — First campaign : Flanders — Commands the 
rear-guard— Returns home and seeks civil employment . i 



Becomes the trusted counsellor of Governor-General — His 
Indian despatches — First proofs of great capacity — Both general 
and administrator— Master of detail — " Rice and bullocks mean 
men" — Large ideas as a leader — Seringapatam : his first and 
only failure — Governs Mysore — Egypt : superseded by Baird — 
Mahratta war — Assaye — Returns to England — K.C.B.,but other- 
wise unappreciated — Dry-nursed by the Horse Guards 1 1 


Given and again deprived of command— Disembarks force at 
the Mondego— Battles of Roleia and Vimiero— Superseded ; and 
pursuit stopped — Convention of Cintra- Wellesley included in 
odium — His defence at Chelsea -31 






Wellesley returns to Portugal — Nearly shipwrecked — The 
opposing armies — Passage of the Douro — Spanish allies worth- 
less — Talavera — Privations of British troops — Critical position 
of Wellesley — His escape — Increasing difficulties of supply 48 



His steadfast sanguine spirit— He works " like a galley-slave " — 
Troublesome officers — Crime in his army — Outrages and ex- 
cesses - Punitive measures — His minute supervision ... 62 


Wellington plays a waiting game— His enemies at home — The 
Government powerless to help him — Overpowering strength of 
the French — Massena's invasion — Busaco — Torres Vedras — 
Unfriendly critics — Massena retreats — Albuera - • - 77 


New plans — Fall of Ciudad Rodrigo and of Badajoz — Sala- 
manca — Burgos besieged, and retreat therefrom — Results of 
campaign of 1812 92 





Wellington's burthen— His crosses and difficulties — His breadth 
of grasp — His self-confidence, sense of duty, untiring energy 
— Exacts implicit obedience from all — Full of resource — Has 
two sets of staff- officers — His personal vanity — His physical 
strength and powers of endurance 103 



Wellington personally controls everything — His military reputa- 
tion now established — His demeanour in the field — Busaco, 
Badajoz, Salamanca, Vittoria, Burgos — His forbearance to 
Craufurd and others 118 



Campaign of Vittoria — Masterly strategy — Advantages of his 
plan of operations — Turning movements ending in battle of 
Vittoria — Complete rout — Vast quantity of booty taken • ' 33 



Soult supersedes King Joseph in south of France — Relative 
positions of English and French — Soult's attack — Battles of 
Sauroren — Wellington will not invade France prematurely — 
The passages of the Bidassoa, Nivelle, Nive, and Adour — 
Battle of Toulouse — Peace — Dispersion of Peninsular army 145 





Escape from Elba — Coalition of Great Powers, and vast pre- 
parations — Belgium filled with allied troops— Blucher's and 
Wellington's armies — Napoleon's efforts— His army— His plan 
of action — Considerations — Wellington's position examined i6o 



Opening of Waterloo campaign — Napoleon's advance — Position 
of the allies — Forces widely disseminated — Rupture imminent 
— Tardy concentration — Ligny an*d Quatre Bras — Retreat on 
Waterloo — Napoleon's pursuit — Did Wellington ride to Wavre ? 
— The great charger " Copenhagen " — Evidence for and against 
the ride . .170 


Wellington relies on Blucher — Grouchy's misdirection — 
Napoleon's confidence—" Ces Anglais ! Enfin je les tiens "— 
Wellington's position— Napoleon's plan of attack — He takes a 
fixed post — Wellington moves everywhere — The five phases 
of the battle — Reille attacks Hougoumont — Ne/s attack of 
centre and left — Ne/s renewed attack on centre — The cavalr>' 
attack — Attack by Imperial Guard — Pressure of Prussian 
advance severely felt — The last attack repulsed — Defeat all 
along the line — Wellington's general good fortune .188 




Wellington and Napoleon compared — The so-called " surprise " 
— Result of Grouchy*s absence from the field — ^Wellington as a 
tactical leader — Waterloo " hard pounding " — A battle of giants 
— Luck 205 


Wellington's great popularity after Waterloo — His continued 
service of the State — Master-General — The Chartists — Saves 
army from extinction — Wrongly blamed for Crimean disasters — 
His political career — Prime Minister — The Reform Bill — His 
unpopularity — Last occasion on which he took office . .216 


Alleged hardness of nature — Yet a staunch friend to Fitz Roy 
Somerset ; to Alexander Gordon— Severe treatment of Norman 
Ramsay and other artillery officers — Colonel Sturgeon — Said to 
have neglected old comrades — Proofs of his generosity — No 
sordid ideas about money — His charities — Story of the snuff-box ; 
of the ball-room at Bath — His indefatigable labours to the last . 226 



Apsley House — Private apartments — Art treasures — Wellington 
and Sir Bavid Wilkie — China and plate — His craze for and col- 
lection of watches — Active habits — Last illness and death . 245 








Hil/ — Beresford — Cotton — Graham — Pic ton — Craufurd— 
Lowry Cole — Colville^ Leith — Clinton — Fletcher — Le Mar- 
chant — Gomm — Kempt — Dickson — Fits Roy Somerset — Colin 
Campbell— William Gordon 263 


Of good birth — Rapid promotion — Friend of George III. — 
Early service in India — Brighton and the Prince Regent — 
Baronetcy 270 


Parentage — One of a large family — Early studies— First com- 
mission — Promotion — Service abroad — Becomes major-general 
— To Copenhagen wi^h Wellesley ; and to Portugal — Engaged in 
independent operations — Almaraz — His fine soldierly qualities — 
His kindliness and the affection he won — " Father Hill " — 
At Waterloo — Later services as commander of the forces — 
Wellington's appreciation 282 




Birth — First commission and early service — Egypt, Buenos 
Ayres, Madeira, Portugal — Given command of Portuguese 
army — Its reorganisation and improvement — Aided by excellent 
officers — Beresford and Albuera — Wellington's opinion of Beres- 
ford — His confidence in him — Later services — Enters political 
life 296 



Advanced age on entering the service — Early life — A Scotch 
laird — Terrible bereavements — Raises 90th Light Infantry — 
Serves in Italy ; and with Moore at Corunna — Rank made sub- 
stantive — Battle of Barrosa — Ciudad Rodrigo — Gallicia — 
Vittoria — San Sebastian — Bergen op Zoom — Long life .312 



Picton's temper — Unfounded statements of his disagreements — 
Duke's high opinion of him — The charge of cruelty in Trinidad 
— Torture of Louise Calderon — Verdict of guilty never set 
aside, although Picton absolved — His sympathisers — The Duke 
of Quecnsberry — Picton's youth and early services — Slow pro- 
motion — Peninsula and the fighting 3rd — "Brave old Picton" 
— The commissary — Waterloo — Death on the field . -319 




Birth and early studies abroad — Serves in India — At Monte 
Video— Brooding melancholy — The retreat on Corunna — "An 
iron man" — The Light Division in the Peninsula — Splendid 
march to Talavera — ^The Coa — Outpost duty — Busaco — Leave 
to England — Resumes command — Fuentes d'Onoro — Ciudad 
Rodrigo^Meets death in the breach 335 



Sir John Hope : at the Adour — Cole : an obedient lieutenant : 
his hospitality — Kempt : from Cox's to Governor-General — 
Leith — Pack — Byng — Colville — Dickson — Gomm — De Lancey . 349 



Parentage — Early studies — Service in America ; in Corsica — 
Conflict with Sir Gilbert Elliot — Promoted brigadier-general 
— West Indies — Ireland — Egypt — The nucleus of the Light 
Division at Shorncliffe Camp — Sicily — Sweden — Portugal ; and 
advance into Spain — Retreat on Corunna ; and death — General 
estimate of that campaign 360 

List of Illustrations 

The Duke of Wellington .... Frontispiece 

From an oil painting hy Henry Weigall. Photogravure, 


The Countess of Mornington, Mother of the 

Duke facing 4 

From a painting in the possession of the Duke of WELLINGTON. 


Lieut.-Colonel the Hon. Arthur Wellesley . „ 6 

From the painting by Sir THOMAS Lawrence, in the posses- 
sion of the Duke of Wellington. Photogravure, 

The Earl of Mornington, Brother of the Duke „ 20 

From the painting by JOHN HOPPNER, belon^ng to the Duke 
of Welungton. Photogravure. 

Sir John Moore >» 40 

From the painting by Sir Thomas Imwrbncb. Photogravure. 

The Duke of Wellington ,,62 

From the painting by Sir Thomas LAWRENCE. Photogravure. 

General Alava n 97 

From the painting by GEORGE Da WE, belonging to the Duke 

of Wellington. 




The Duke of Wellington .... facing 124 

From the fainting by Gambardella. Photogravure. 

Marshal Soult „ 144 

From the fainting by G. P. A. Hkaly. 

Map of Spain, showing the Base of Operations 

DURING THE Peninsular War . . . . „ 160 

The Duchess of Wellington . . . „ 164 

From the fainting by Sir THOMAS Lawrence, new in the 
possession of the Duke of Wellington. Photogravure. 

The Marquis of Anglesey >i 170 

From the fainting by HENRY Edridge, A.R.A., now in the 
National Portrait Gallery. By fermission of Messrs. 
Walker 6* Boutall. 

"Copenhagen" and his Tomb . . . . ^« 183 
Sir Thomas Picton facing 196 

From the fainting by Sir M. A. Shee, now in the National 
Portrait Gallery. By fermission of Messrs. Walker 6* 
Boutall. Photogravure. 

Lord Seaton ......... 202 

From the fainting by H. W. PiCKERSGiLL, belonging to the 

Duke of Wellington. 

Map of Belgium, showing the Plan of Opera- 
tions „ 205 

Letter from the Duke of Wellington, June 18, 

1838 .......... 226 




Lord Raglan, formerly Fitz Roy Somerset facing 228 

Strathfieldsaye ^« 237 

The Duke's Bedroom, Walmer Castle . ,,241 

The Library, Apsley House „ 247 

The Duke's Bedroom, Apsley House . . . „ 251 
The Duke of Wellington .... facing 254 

From the painting by COUNT d'Orsay, ntno in the National 
Portrait Gallery. By permission of Messrs, Walker <&• 

Letter from Count d'Orsay, July 8, 1837. . „ 256 


The Marquis of Londonderry, formerly Charles 

Stewart „ 265 


Viscount Combermere, formerly Stapleton 

Cotton ,,276 

From the painting by Pearson, now in the National Portrait 
Gallery, By permission of Messrs, Walker ^ Boutall, 

General Lord Hill ,,292 


Marshal Beresford „ 308 




Lord Lynedoch. formerly Sir Thomas Graham facing 316 

From the painting by Sir George Hayter, in the National 
Portrait Gallery. By permission of Messrs. Walker 6* 

Major-General Robert Craufurd . . • on 339 
Sir Lowry Cole facing 350 

From the painting by Sir Thomas Lawrence. Photogravure^ 

Sir W. Howe De Lancey „ 358 

Medallion on the Cover. 

From the bust of the great Duke, in the possession of the 

Duke of Wellington. 





Birth — Childhood — School — Enters army — Youthfiil zeal — Rapid pro- 
motion — First campaign : Flanders — Commands the rear-guard — 
Returns home and seeks civil employment 

yyRTHUR WELLESLEY was the fourth son 
/-\ of Garret, Earl of Mornington, and Anne 
Hill, a daughter of Lord Dungannon. He 
came of a good old English stock settled in Ire- 
land, and he is said to have been born in Dublin, 
or at Dangan Castle, County Meath, about May 
1769. Thackeray, in his Ballads, makes the great 
Duke refer retrospectively to his parentage — 

" His father praps he sees. 
Most musicle of Lords, 
A playing maddrigles and glees 
Upon the Arpsicords. 


Jest phansy this old Ero 

Upon his mother's knee ! 
Did ever lady in this land 

Ave greater sons than she ? " 

Arthur owed much to both his parents. He 
inherited his fathers fine musical taste and his 
mother's strength of character. A water-colour 
portrait of Lady Mornington still extant shows that 
he resembled her in feature — no compliment, per- 
haps, to her. He was "her ugly boy Arthur ; " her 
other children were remarkable for their good looks, 
and the eldest, afterwards Marquis of Wellesley, 
was one of the handsomest men of his time. 

No very authentic facts are preserved of Wel- 
lington's childhood. He was at school in Chelsea, 
then at Eton, afterwards in Brussels, and finally for 
a year at the academy of a M. Pignerol at Angers. 
At Eton he fought his first battle with '* Bobus *' 
Smith, Sidney Smith s brother, with what success 
we do not know. In Brussels he began the study 
of French, and at Angers he was grounded in the 
military art ; Pignerol taught everything, and his 
was not, as has been said, exclusively a military 
school. A schoolfellow has preserved the fact that 
Arthur was not very attentive to his studies ; he 
preferred to play with his terrier dog '' Vick '* and 
accept social civilities from the neighbouring gentry. 


Undoubtedly Wellington taught himself more than 
he ever learnt from his tutors. It is the only ex- 
planation of that marvellous breadth of knowledge 
he displayed when called, quite early in life, to deal 
with great affairs. We have it from his own lips, 
moreover, ^ that before he went to India he had 
made it his invariable rule to read for several hours 
daily, and that he never gave up the practice. His 
rare powers, his quick appreciation and strongly 
retentive memory, soon stored his mind. Like 
other great soldiers, he had laid to heart early 
the lessons contained in the works of military 
writers, had digested their plans of campaigns, the 
movements and operations of famous generals, and 
thus acquired clear ideas of conduct, fostering the 
faculty of command, the power to control compli- 
cated situations and solve difficulties in the field 
with promptitude and propriety. 

The Duke never looked back with pleasure on 
his early days ; he never talked of them, save by 
accident or against his will. He was no favourite 
with his mother ; on the contrary, it is asserted that 
her feeling for him was *'not far removed from 
aversion." In after life he exhibited no warmth of 
affection for her, and thus repaid her early neglect. 
She is said to have called him the "fool of the 

^ Colonel Shaw Kennedy. 


family," "fit food for powder" and nothing more; 
to have had but a small opinion of him until com- 
pelled to be proud of his great deeds. His best 
friend was his brother Richard (Marquis Wellesley)/ 
who helped him to his first commission, secured 
him quick promotion, and furnished the necessary 

Arthur Wellesley was gazetted ensign in the 
41st Regiment on the 7th March 1787, and joined 
in Dublin. We have a glimpse of him there in one 
or two apocryphal stories. A lady would not accept 
an invitation to a picnic until she had stipulated 
that "that mischievous boy Arthur Wellesley 
should not be of the party." It is to this period, 
no doubt, we may attribute the legend that he was 
concerned in a street brawl and came into collision 
with the Dublin "Charleys." He was clearly not 
a ladies' man — at no pains to please them. Lady 
Aldborough was fond of confessing that she thought 
him a gawky youth, and but poor company ; for she 
took him with her to some entertainment and left 
him planted there, to find his way home as best he 
could, which he did by accepting a lift from the 
musicians. " I never thought," she afterwards told 
the great Duke laughingly, " when I left you to 
travel with the fiddlers, that you would come to play 
first fiddle yourself" He was actually a violinist. 


and a good one, but he gave up the instrument 
quite early in life. It says much for the stern bent 
of Wellington's mind that he ceased playing be- 
cause he felt that it was too engrossing and would 
distract him from the more serious business of life. 
About the same time he resolved never again to 
touch a card. He had been a gambler, and had 
once lost so heavily in Dublin that he became 
greatly embarrassed. His steadiness and self-re- 
spect were strongly marked in those early days. 
In an age when hard drinking was deemed an 
amiable feeling he was singularly abstemious. He 
never smoked but once, when the Prince Regent 
gave him a cigar, which he failed to conquer. 

The lad was a good soldier from the day he 
joined. The gaieties of Dublin, the frolics of the 
Viceregal Court when appointed A.D.C. to the 
Lord Lieutenant, his parliamentary duties as M.P. 
for Trim in the Irish House of Commons— none 
of these could turn him from his military work. 
He was entirely devoted to his profession. There 
is a famous story of him that, as an ensign, he 
caused a private soldier to be weighed with and 
without his accoutrements, so as to "compare 
the weight he carried and the work he had to 
do." He was heard to excuse this curious in- 
stance of youthful zeal by urging that he could not 


begin too soon to understand something of his 

No doubt he had every encouragement to learn 
his work, the best incentive of all, that of immediate 
reward. His advancement was extraordinarily rapid, 
even for a ** sprig of the aristocracy,*' as he some- 
times called himself, and in days when commissions 
were given to babes in arms of both sexes. He 
became a lieutenant in the first month of his service ; 
a captain in the 12th Lancers in June 1791, after 
four years ; a major in the 33rd foot in April 1793, 
and lieutenant-colonel commanding in September 
the same year. The last step was by purchase, 
with money found by his brother. It is pleasant 
to record the close bond of affection that existed 
between them, as shown by the eagerness of 
Arthur to repay the loan directly Indian prize- 
money gave him a substantial bank balance, and 
no less by Richard s refusal to accept it. It is 
a trait of nobility and straight dealing that does 
credit to both characters. But the Wellesleys, and 
these two especially, were far above any sordid, 
mercenary ideas ; Arthur was liberal to a fault, 
his purse-strings ever open, as will be presently 
shown, to his friends and to all who established 
a claim on his generosity. 

Six years from ensign to lieutenant-colonel is 



no bad record, even in times when influence, social 
and political, counted for so much in every public 
career. The system which is supposed to be now 
obsolete has been defended on the ground that it 
gave us young leaders — men in their prime and 
at their very best. The cases of Wellington and 
some of his more conspicuous comrades are quoted 
in proof of its usefulness. It cannot be denied that, 
but for their rapid advancement, the country would 
not have been served by such men as Beresford, 
Hope, Cole, Colville, Pakenham, Cotton, Slade, and 
Gomm. Marshal Beresford was only nine years in 
gaining the rank of lieutenant-colonel ; and he was 
a major-general at thirty-six. Sir John Hope, who 
began late for those times, was also but nine years 
in obtaining the command of a regiment, and did 
so at the age of twenty-eight. Sir Lowry Cole 
was a lieutenant-colonel at twenty-two, after seven 
years' service ; Sir Edward Pakenham (Welling- 
ton s brother-in-law) was a major at seventeen, and 
in one year more a lieutenant-colonel ; Sir Charles 
Colville was given his first commission at eleven, 
he joined at sixteen, and was a captain at one- 
and-twenty ; Sir Stapleton Cotton was a second 
lieutenant at seventeen, a captain of cavalry at 
twenty, and in command of a newly raised regiment 
of Dragoons as lieutenant-colonel in the following 


year. All these were scions of noble families or of 
men with large landed estates. The converse has, 
however, been rather ignored, and a discreet veil 
has been drawn over the failures for which some 
of these favourites of fortune became responsible. 

Wellington, although he so largely benefited by 
the system in vogue, declared it *' certainly desirable 
that the only claim to promotion should be military 
merit ; but this," he goes on to say, " is a degree 
of perfection to which the disposal of military 
patronage has never, and cannot be, I believe, 
brought in any military establishment." This diffi- 
culty, indeed, led him to question whether there 
could be any influence in aid of military merit **so 
legitimate as that of family connection, fortune, and 
influence in the country." He put military merit 
first, but where claims were nicely balanced he 
would allow interest to weigh down the scale. But 
no such arguments can well be applied in favour 
of the advancement of '* curled darlings " who have 
not been tried. The advantages, as seen in the 
rare development of great genius, a mere chance 
after all, are more than counterbalanced by the 
possible mischief of calling the unknown prema- 
turely to high place, and the positive heartburning 
it entails. 

Wellington has been heard to say that his real 


life began in Indiau But the butterfly stage of his 
existence, if he ever passed through one, must have 
ended when he obtained command of the 33rd. 
From that time forward he was wrapped in his 
profession, indefatigable in his efforts to become 
expert, and a master of all its details. As a regi- 
mental commanding officer he soon won golden 
opinions. A few years later Lord Harris reported 
on the 33rd as a model regiment ; ** for equipment, 
for courage, for discipline, for good conduct, it is 
above all praise." It no doubt owed this mainly 
to its lieutenant-colonel, who was as assiduous in 
promoting its efficiency as in perfecting his own 
knowledge and tactical skill. Wellesley was un- 
doubtedly a " first-rate drill," as the phrase goes ; 
that he had thoroughly learnt how to handle not 
only an infantry battalion, but larger bodies of all 
arms, is shown by the consummate skill he dis- 
played on many great occasions. He gained dis- 
tinction in this way during his very first campaign, 
which he made with the Duke of York in Flanders 
in 1794. At the affair of Boxtel, by a prompt 
deployment he stayed the victorious advance of 
the French, and later this lieutenant-colonel of 
twenty-five was entrusted with the command of the 
rear-guard, the responsible duty of covering an 
army in retreat. Many who noticed his skill in 


this most arduous manoeuvre predicted his future 
success as a leader of men. He must have imbibed 
many useful lessons in that disastrous campaign. 
He saw the vices of our military system, the evils 
of divided command, the incompetence of a royal 
general, the blunders caused by the fussy inter- 
ference of an Aulic council at home. ** It was a 
marvel how any of us escaped," was his commentary 
on that series of contemptible military mistakes. 

After Flanders Wellington was nearly lost to 
the army. Straitened means, debts contracted in 
Dublin,^ "circumstances, necessities," as he him- 
self described them, induced him to seek civil em- 
ployment, '*some post in the Revenue or under the 
Treasury, something more lucrative, in short, than 
the command of a regiment." ** He did so with re- 
luctance. It was departing from a line he preferred," 
but he was driven to it by the seeming hopeless- 
ness and narrowness of his military prospects. Yet 
within a couple of years the wheel of fortune lifted 
him into a position of splendid opportunity. The 
33rd went to India, he followed it, to arrive almost 
simultaneously with his brother. Lord Mornington. 
One Wellesley was but a simple colonel of a regi- 
ment, the other was Governor-General. 

^ No doubt the losses at play already mentioned. 



Becomes the trusted counsellor of Governor-General — His Indian 
despatches — First proofs of great capacity — Both general and ad- 
ministrator — Master of detail — '^Rice and bullocks mean men'' — 
Large ideas as a leader — Seringapatam : his first and only failure — 
Governs Mysore — Egypt : superseded by Baird — Mahratta war — 
Assaye — Returns to England — K.C.B., but otherwise unappreciated 
— Dry-nursed by the Horse Guards. 

INDIA was no doubt the turning-point in Arthur 
Wellesley's life, the start and basis of his great 
career. It was his first chance of showing what 
was in him ; we see now how the habit of quiet, 
close observation to which he was constantly ad- 
dicted bore fruit, and how, when called upon to use 
his reasoning powers, he could rely upon a strong 
intellect fortified by study and previous thought. 
Almost at once, although but twenty-eight, he was 
called upon to consider matters the most varied 
and momentous. He became the confidant and 
trusted counsellor of men who wielded the highest 
authority and were weighted with the heaviest re- 
sponsibilities, the most burthensome and anxious 
cares. His brother the Governor - General, the 



Governor of Madras, the military commander-in- 
chief, officials high and low, referred their difficulties 
to Wellesley, and gladly took his advice. He had 
a rare faculty of going to the very heart of things. 
The papers and minutes he drew up on subjects 
the most diverse and intricate contained sound, 
sagacious opinions, couched in clear language, 
based upon wide, deep knowledge, and brimful of 
common-sense. His correspondence at that early 
period, on the very threshold of his career, is per- 
haps the most interesting part of all his voluminous 
despatches. Nearly forty years afterwards, when 
in the fulness of his fame, he spoke of them with 
pardonable pride. ** I have just been reading over 
my Indian despatches," he told Lady Salisbury in 
1834, **and I am surprised to find them so good. 
They are as good as I should write now. They 
show the same attention to details — to the pursuit 
of all the means, however small, that could promote 
success . . . the energy and activity are as great 
then as ever afterwards." 

There is nothing exaggerated really in this self- 
complacent estimate of his early work. Any one 
who examines these papers must be struck with 
their power ; the grasp, the breadth of knowledge, 
the patient attention to minute details, the high 
tone, the unerring insight into men and things that 


fill them. We have here the first evidences of that 
high sense of duty that always actuated him ; the 
high standard of character he expected from his 
officers. This is the same man who wrote, some 
ten years later, in Portugal, when oppressed by 
many trials : " I come here to perform my duty ; and 
I neither do nor can enjoy any satisfaction in any- 
thing excepting the performance of my duty to my 
own country." First among his thoughts, too, was 
to maintain the reputation of an English gentleman. 
He will have no dealings with people "who have 
no faith, or no principle of honour or of honesty, 
or such as usually among us guide the conduct of 
gentlemen." Bribery was abhorrent to him, and 
he unhesitatingly declared that any offer of it was 
an insult to British officers and gentlemen. His 
own punctilious nicety is seen in his indignant 
disclaimer of all unworthy motives in levying a 
contribution upon the city of Burhampore in 1804. 
He defends the action, taking his stand on the 
practice common in India and in Europe ; he 
declares " it would have been much more disgrace- 
ful and disastrous to have lost the campaign from 
the want of money than to have ensured in this 
manner the means of gaining it. ... I believe I 
am as anxious as any other man that my character 
should not suffer — I do not mean in the mouths of 


common reporters and scandal-bearers, but in the 
eyes of a fair-judging people." We find him a 
keen judge of character, possessing an almost in- 
tuitive penetration ; he reckons men up quickly 
at their exact value. One is ** an honest, zealous 
servant of the public, . . . but the most unaccom- 
modating public officer I have ever met with." 
Another, ** although an excellent man, has more of 
the oak than the willow in his disposition." 

In public affairs, both civil and military, he 
exhibits the highest qualities of the administrator 
and the general. His views are broad and states- 
manlike. His letter, for instance, addressed to Lord 
Clive in 1800, then Governor of Bombay, consider- 
ing our attitude towards the Mahrattas, is a closely 
reasoned state paper of the highest value ; that in 
1803 to Colonel Close, the Secretary to Government, 
shows an intimate acquaintance with the hidden 
springs and secret working of some of the native 
states; a third, that to General Stuart in 1804, on 
the administration of newly acquired territories and 
the maintenance of a proper military establishment, 
exhibits profound knowledge and great prescience. 

In military matters he is naturally at home, in 
all branches and in all respects. He can plan com- 
prehensive operations, and yet attend to the most 
minute details of preparation ; he is a master of 


la grande guerre^ yet fully experienced in minor 
tactics and regimental interior economy. His 
memorandum on the expedition to Egypt, drawn 
up for his own guidance when he believed he was 
to have the command, but unreservedly placed at 
the disposal of the general who had superseded 
him, is a clear r&um6 of the pros and cons, the 
difficulties that may be expected in crossing the 
desert from the Red Sea to the Nile, the reason- 
able hopes he entertains that they are not insur- 
mountable. Another memorandum, on the proposed 
operations against the Mahrattas in 1801, is an ad- 
mirable document. Wellesley prepared it believing 
that his experience of the theatre of the war, ** the 
seasons, nature of the country, its roads, its produce, 
and its means of defence, will be of use." With this 
preamble he proceeds to compress an immense 
quantity of the most valuable information into a 
few pages ; he gives the most minute details on 
every possible point, from the fighting qualities of 
the enemy, the depths of the rivers, the resources 
of the country, to directions for taking a fort by a 
coup de main and the defences of Mysore. In the 
campaign that preceded Assaye he had the clearest 
ideas of the object in view. ** I shall attack Ahmed- 
nuggur ... by the possession of which place I 
shall secure the communications with Poonah and 


Bombay. . . . When I shall have finished that 
operation and crossed the Godavery, I shall then 
if possible bring the enemy to action." 

It is well known that Wellington put the ques- 
tions of commissariat and supply before all. As he 
told Rogers, " If I had rice and bullocks I had men, 
and if I had men I knew I could beat the enemy." 
The Indian despatches abound with proofs of his 
early appreciation of this. " Articles of provision 
are not to be trifled with or left to chance," he 
writes to the Governor of Ceylon, **and there is 
nothing more clear than that the subsistence of the 
troops must be certain upon the proposed service, 
or the service must be relinquished." He has his 
fears about Baird's desert march, ** founded upon 
the danger that the troops will starve if they do 
not return immediately." Read his voluminous 
requisitions on the Governor of Bombay for the 
supply of his column in the Mahratta war ; the 
specification of items one by one, 10,000 gallons 
of arrack, 90,000 lbs. of salt meat for the European 
troops, 600 garces of rice for the native, with pre- 
cise instructions as to packing, in " casks and kegs, 
round baskets," and so forth ; the exact calculation 
beforehand of quantities, of medical stores (in detail), 
military stores, of forage for the horses, of trans- 
port animals, draught and carriage bullocks, with 



the cautious reminder that ** every carriage bullock 
must have a saddle." Again, when actually in the 
heat of active operations: ** I have written to all 
quarters for assistance in cattle, . . . inquired of 
Colonel Stevenson whether he can afford to share 
with me his supplies of rice." " The cavalry horses 
are in goocf order, but our great difficulty is to find 
grain for them ; there is plenty in the country, but 
it is all hid in holes ; . . . notwithstanding the price 
we pay, we get none that we do not dig up." To 
the Governor of Bombay : *' The service cannot be 
carried on in this manner ; the troops must have 
regular supplies of provisions at command, or mis- 
fortune and disgrace will be the result." We shall 
have much more in this strain when we see Wel- 
lington in a larger field. 

That Wellington had made an earnest study 
of the military art is also plain from these early 
despatches. We continually come across interest- 
ing reflections, embodying many of the axioms and 
principles in war, and applying them to his own 
conditions. *' How true it is that in all military 
operations time is everything!" ** In all great 
actions there is risk." ** If we begin by a long de- 
fensive war, and go looking after convoys which are 
scattered over the face of the earth, and do not 
attack briskly, we shall soon be in distress." . . . 



** I should break that detachment to pieces . . . 
should gain a powerful body of allies . . . and 
should have the whole game in my hands immedi- 
ately." To Colonel Stevenson : '* If you adopt this 
plan, and succeed in cutting up or driving to a dis- 
tance one good party, the campaign will be our own. 
A long defensive war will ruin us, and will answer 
no purpose whatever." ** I have served a good deal 
in this part of India, against this description of free- 
booter, and I think the best mode of operating is to 
press him with one or two corps capable of moving 
with tolerable celerity, and of such a strength as to 
render the result of an action by no means doubtful, 
if he should venture to risk one." 

His intimate acquaintance with minor tactics, 
with the hundred and one details of daily routine 
in camp and quarters, his views and methods for 
the enforcement of discipline, show the born soldier 
with natural faculties developed and improved by 
thought, practice, and the exigencies of the service. 
His orders for the line of march, his instructions 
to the piquets and quarter-guards, his close super- 
vision of all outpost duty, his stringent regulations 
for the preservation of order, and his management 
of courts-martial, bear witness to his strong master- 
ful nature, his self-reliance, his powers of wield- 
ing authority. All this time his own character was 


being strengthened. We get much insight into the 
young man's mind, the motives that guide him, 
the principles that support him, the rules of con- 
duct he sets himself to follow. The general who 
planned the lines of Torres Vedras, and sprang 
them as a complete surprise both upon his own 
army and an over-exultant enemy, practised the 
same cautious reserve very early in life. '* I wish 
to keep in my own breast the period at which hos- 
tilities should be commenced," he writes to Colonel 
Close in 1803. Again, in 1804, to Colonel Wallace : 
** A point ... to which I should wish to draw your 
attention ... is the secrecy of your proceedings. 
There is nothing more certain, that of a hundred 
affairs ninety -nine might be posted up at the 
market cross without injury to the public interests; 
but the misfortune is, that where the public business 
is the subject of general conversation, and is not 
kept secret as a matter of course, upon every 
occasion, it is very difficult to keep it secret on 
that occasion on which it is necessary. ... It 
may be depended upon that whenever the public 
business ought to be kept secret, it always suffers 
when it is exposed to public view. For this reason 
secrecy is always best, and those who have been 
long trusted with the conduct of public affairs 
are in the habit of never making known public 


business. . . . The consequence is that secrecy be- 
comes natural to them. . . . Remember that what 
I recommend to you is far removed from mystery ; 
in fact I recommend silence upon the public busi- 
ness on all occasions, in order to avoid the necessity 
for mystery upon any." 

The young leader in these days of his upward 
progress was just as strong in action as in the 
closet. He went to India at perhaps the most 
critical stage in the growth of our Eastern empire, 
when our possessions were limited to strips of 
territory upon the sea-coast, when the East India 
Company was overshadowed by great native 
powers, and when at least one of them, Tippoo 
Sahib, was an avowed ally of France. It was 
fortunate that our agents and representatives in 
India were equal to the strain put upon them in 
this crisis. A conflict with Tippoo was inevitable, 
and the policy of the Governor-General was now 
strengthened, if not inspired, by his young soldier- 
brother. Wellesley saw that it was necessary to 
split up the Mahratta Confederacy, detach the 
Nizam, and disband the French contingent. He 
was still desirous to avoid war, yet he prepared for 
it strenuously. It was at his urgent recommenda- 
tion, and with his assistance, that an effective, well- 
equipped force of 30,000 men was assembled in 

('>«// t/'.9Krmyittm.. .7/ /:/ 


the Madras Presidency ready to try conclusions 
with Tippoo and move upon Seringapatam. It 
was Colonel Wellesley who organised it, for it 
happened that he was called by accident to the 
temporary command, and he so perfected this 
army as to hand it over to General Harris, a few 
months later, "one of the best disciplined forces 
that had ever taken the field in India." 

General Harris put Wellesley, with the rank of 
brigadier, in command of the Nizam s contingent, 
with which he also associated the 33rd. In the 
operations that followed Wellesley commanded the 
left, in driving Tippoo from his position at Mala- 
velly, and he took part in the first combined attack 
on Seringapatam. Here Wellesley met with his 
first and only military failure— the memory of which 
long lingered with him, and made him tender and 
forgiving to non-success. He was heard to say in 
after life that he would never have risen had he 
been denied a second chance. The causes of that 
failure were always well remembered, and avoided 
by him in after life ; he never again attacked a 
position in the darkness of the night without having 
thoroughly reconnoitred his ground. Some writers 
have pretended that he owed the chance of rehabili- 
tating himself to the kindly offices of Sir David 
Baird, whom, a few days later, he superseded in 


accepting the governorship of the captured Seringa- 
patam. This is supported by no positive evidence. 
As a matter of fact Wellesley succeeded at the same 
point, the very morning after his failure, but he took 
no part in the final assault beyond commanding the 
reserves in the trenches. Sir David Baird led the 
stormers ; yet Wellesley was made governor of the 
fortress, a preference that caused much heartburn- 
ing at the time. It was thought then that undue 
favouritism was shown to the Governor-Generals 
brother, but the Duke long afterwards ^ maintained 
that he was really the most fitted person for the 
post. *' I had commanded the Nizam s army during 
the campaign and given universal satisfaction. I 
was liked by the natives. ..." Baird, on the 
other hand, *'had strong prejudices against them, 
and he was peculiarly disqualified, from his manner, 
habits, and, it was supposed, his temper,* for the 
management of them." Notwithstanding this con- 
flict of claims Baird and Wellesley were always on 
the best of terms, and the Duke said frankly after- 
wards, ** I don*t believe there is a man who rejoiced 
more sincerely in my ulterior successes." 

Sir John Malcolm records how in 1832 he met 

^ Duke to Croker, January 24, 1831. 

* During Baird's imprisonment by Tippoo Sahib, the news came home that 
the English captives were chained t(^ether two and two. " God help the lad 
that's tied to our Davie," was his mother's remark on hearing the news. 


Baird for the first time, after long years, when Sir 
David admitted that " Times are changed. No one 
knows so well as you how severely I felt the pre- 
ference given on several occasions to your friend 
Wellesley; but now I see all these things in 
a far different point of view. It is the highest 
pride of my life that anybody should ever have 
dreamed of my being put in the balance with him» 
His fame is now to me joy, and, I may almost say, 

Baird had a more immediate revanche, for in 
1 80 1 he superseded Wellesley in command of the 
expedition sent to Egypt. In the interval Wel- 
lesley had administered Seringapatam and Mysore 
with great wisdom and spirit, establishing order 
and good government, enforcing economy, checking 
" rascality," and gaining the approval of his brother, 
who wrote : " Your conduct in Mysore has gained 
you great credit, and assured your advancement 
in after life." While thus peacefully engaged he 
could still find employment as a military leader, 
and his campaign against the notorious freebooter 
Dhoondiah, "the King of the World," was charac- 
terised with extraordinary vigour. Soon Wellesley 
was sent to Trincomalee to concert measures for 
an attack either upon Batavia or Mauritius, and, 
while there, had the hardihood to direct the troops 


collected at Ceylon upon Bombay, in order to co- 
operate on the latest scheme of all, the expedition 
to Eg^pt. He acted thus promptly on his own 
authority, and his conduct was not exactly approved, 
as likely to cause an *' inconvenient precedent." 
Following the force to Bombay, he was there met 
with the disappointing news that Baird, not he, 
was to command the force going to Egypt. Wel- 
lington in his turn resented this ''supersession," 
although Baird was a general officer and he only 
a colonel; but he deemed it **a great blow to his 
professional prospects." While giving vent to his 
irritation in private letters, his public demeanour 
was, however, quite proper. He agreed to serve 
as second in command. " I am not quite satisfied," 
he wrote, " with the manner in which I have been 
treated ; however, I have lost neither my health, 
spirits, or temper. ... I have never had much 
value for the public spirit of any man who does 
not sacrifice his private views and convenience 
when it is necessary." 

This good feeling prompted him, as I have said, 
to place at Sir David Baird*s disposal all the in- 
formation he had collected when believing he him- 
self was to command, and no doubt he would have 
served with loyalty and skill as lieutenant. But 
now illness seized him, and he was unable to sail 


with the force. This illness has been called fever, 
but the Duke told Earl Stanhope long afterwards 
that it was no more than the "Malabar itch," 
which he had caught in a strange bed on ship- 
board, and which, although pertinacious, was never 
a serious complaint. 

Fortune continued to smile on Wellesley. The 
expedition to the Red Sea was successful, but 
produced no definite results ; while Wellesley, by 
remaining in India, fell in for a large share in 
the now imminent Mahratta war. His task was to 
advance to succour Poonah, the Peishwah's capital, 
which he effected with praiseworthy promptitude, 
in a forced march made by his cavalry, sixty miles 
in thirty hours. He was then nominated to deal 
with both the political and military situation, on the 
grounds of his ** approved zeal, ability, temper, and 
judgment, combined with extensive local know- 
ledge." Negotiations followed with Scindia and 
Holkar which lasted into August, but were abruptly 
terminated on the 8th August, when Wellesley 
seized Ahmednuggur and thus gained a strong 
place covering Poonah. 

24M Aug, He crossed the Godavery and occu- 
pied Aurungabad, as a counter movement against 
the Mahrattas, who threatened Hyderabad. 

12th Sept. Colonel Stevenson, who co-operated 


with the Nizam's army, carried Jalna, and effected 
a junction with Wellesley on the 2 ist at Budnapore. 

A combined attack upon the enemy's forces 
was then arranged — Stevenson to take the left or 
western route, Wellesley the eastern. 

2 7^rd Sept. Wellesley came upon the whole Mah- 
ratta army drawn up behind the Kaitna River, 
50,000 men, largely cavalry, with 128 guns — their 
right at Bokerdun, the left on Assay e. He had only 
8000 men all told, 1 500 of them Europeans ; and his 
1 7 guns, drawn by exhausted bullocks, could not be 
trusted to do much execution. He was called upon 
to make an immediate and most momentous de- 
cision. To retire in front of Scindia s numerous 
cavalry would be perilous; to wait for Steven- 
son, still a day's march distant, meant sacrificing a 
great opportunity ; to attack at once was still more 

The offensive was a "desperate expedient," yet 
he took it, and threw himself upon the enemy's left 
by a ford he had discovered. Scindia changed front, 
now resting his right upon the Kaitna, his left on 
the village of Assaye, while his guns dealt terrible 
havoc among the advancing assailants. Wellesley 
saw that his only hope was the bayonet, and gave 
orders to charge home. The position was carried 
and victory seemed near, when the enemy rallied 


and were once more charged by Wellesley with the 
reserve, the 78th foot, the 19th Dragoons, and the 
7th native cavalry, which drove them off the field. 
" Never," says Southey, '* was a battle gained 
against such tremendous odds. The enemy had 
ten times as many combatants in the field as 
the English ... his artillery was far superior, his 
cannonade frightful. ..." "I have no language 
to express the admirable conduct of the troops. 
They moved in the best order, and with the greatest 
steadiness, under the most murderous fire." * 

Assaye was Wellesley 's first independent action, 
and is deeply interesting as the first real evidence 
of his fine military character. The antecedent 
operations had shown him full of dash and energy ; 
the battle proved that he closely calculated the 
chances and was yet capable of taking the highest 
risks in pursuit of great ends. He who could fling 
a small force against a disciplined enemy ten times 
his strength, strongly posted, with overwhelming 
artillery, was no ordinary leader. In after years he 
attributed this victory chiefly to the very simple 
exercise of common-sense. He knew that he must 
attack or be destroyed ; knew, also, that to attack 
he must first cross the river. His guides assured 
him that it was impassable ; the enemy was too 

* General Wellesley*s despatch. 


strong to allow him to examine it unmolested. 
Then with his glass he made out two villages built 
one on either bank, and he sagely concluded that 
** there must be habitual means of communication 
between them, either by boat or a ford — most pro- 
bably the latter." The guides still persisted there 
was no ford, but Wellesley resolved, on the strength 
of his own reasoning, to risk the advance to the 
river. There he found the passage. He crossed, 
and was safe from the enemy's cavalry on the bank 
he had left ; he now found himself between two 
streams that covered his flanks, while his force just 
filled the intervening space. ** And there I fought 
and won the battle, the bloodiest for the numbers I 
ever saw ; and this was all from the common-sense 
guessing that men do not build villages on the 
opposite sides of a stream without some means of 
communication between them." 

When, at the end of the Mahratta war, Wellesley 
returned to England, he came ahead of his reputa- 
tion. Although greatly honoured, fSted, and appre- 
ciated by all classes in India — superiors, comrades, 
subordinates, the whole native community — he was 
hardly known at home. Had he not been backed by 
family influence he would probably have received no 
recognition for his brilliant services. As the brother 
of Lord Wellesley he could not be quite ignored. 


and he received the Red Riband of the Bath, with 
the command of a brigade at Hastings. Then he 
entered the House of Commons, and held office as 
Chief Secretary for Ireland. But his heart was with 
his own work, and he gladly accepted the command 
of a division in Lord Cathcart's expedition against 
Copenhagen, where he won the action of Kioge, an 
attack boldly made upon an entrenched position. 

Despite all this, he had not yet gained the con- 
fidence of his military superiors. **The Horse 
Guards never showed me any favour . . . thought 
little of an Indian victory; it was rather a ground 
of suspicion than confidence. Because I was an 
M.P. they thought I must be a politician and not 
a soldier ; they looked on me as a sprig of nobi- 
lity come into the army for ornament, and no use. 
Could not believe I was a tolerable regimental 
officer. ... I have proof that they thought I could 
not be entrusted alone with a division. . . . When 
the Horse Guards are obliged to employ one of 
those fellows like me, they give him what they call 
a second in command— one in whom they have 
confidence — kind of dry-nurse. When I went to 
Zealand they gave me General Stewart. . . . During 
the embarkation, the voyage out, and the disem- 
barkation Stewart did everything. ... At last, how- 
ever, we came up with the enemy. Stewart, as usual, 


was beginning his suggestions and arrangements, 
but I stopped him short with 'Come, come, its my 
turn now/ I immediately made my own disposi- 
tions, assigned him the command of one of the wings, 
gave him his orders, attacked the enemy and beat 
them. Stewart, like a man of sense, saw in a moment 
that I understood my business, and subsided (as far 
as I saw) with good humour into his proper place. 

*'But this did not cure the Horse Guards. When 
I went to Portugal they gave me Sir Brent Spencer 
as second in command ; but I came to an explana- 
tion with him. I told him I did not know what 
second in command meant, any more than third 
or fourth or fifth in command. I alone commanded 
the army; that the other officers commanded their 
divisions ; that if anything happened to me, the 
senior survivor would take command ; that, in con- 
templation of such a possibility, I would treat him, 
but him in particular as next in succession, with the 
most entire confidence, and would leave none of my 
views or intentions unexplained ; but that I would 
have no second in command in the sense of his 
having anything like a joint command or super- 
intending control ; and that finally, and above all, I 
would not only take but insist upon the whole and 
undivided responsibility of all that should happen 
when the army was under my command." 



Given and again deprived of command — Disembarks force 

at the Mondego. 

NOW when Wellesley was on the threshold of 
his larger achievements he was all but shut 
out from the chance of proving his capacity. 
The distrust of his military masters pursued him, and 
many arguments were invoked to deprive him of 
the command in the Peninsula. The Cabinet gave 
him their confidence, but not the Horse Guards. 
When the British Government, putting aside a 
dozen vain projects, decided at length to succour 
Spain and Portugal in their patriotic contest against 
Napoleon, the expedition was at first placed under 
the orders of Sir Arthur. He had hardly em- 
barked before he was superseded — not, as has been 
stated, because the force was too large for a major- 
generals command (for he was already a lieutenant- 
general, although nearly the junior of his rank), but 
because the reigning powers at the Horse Guards 
could not believe in this upstart young man. They 



thought an officer of greater weight, older, and 
with larger experience, was needed. The Duke of 
York, then Commander-in-Chief, was all in favour 
of seniority ; he declined to accept the principle that 
youthful vigour was a strong, although not indis- 
pensable qualification in a general, and ignored 
such examples as those of Marlborough, Wolfe, and 
Napoleon.^ Accordingly four lieutenant-generals, all 
senior to Wellesley, were appointed to the expedi- 
tion. These were Sir Hew Dalrymple, Sir Harry 
Burrard, Sir John Moore, and Sir David Baird. 
Dalrymple was fifty-eight, Burrard fifty-three, 
Moore forty-seven, and Baird fifty-one years of 
age. The two last named had seen much varied 
service, and were distinguished in the field ; Dal- 
rymple and ' Burrard were what might be styled 
barrack-yard soldiers, good useful officers, well 
thought of by the authorities, who had served 
respectably through all the grades, but had not 
seen war on any large scale. Wellesley s Indian 
experience and successes, if fairly considered, en- 
titled him to be preferred before any of those 
whom the Horse Guards now put over him. 

The news of his supersession met Wellesley 
on his arrival off the coast of Portugal. He faced 
the disappointment with his customary good temper 

^ It is said that the Duke of York himself looked for the command. 


and unfailing public spirit. " I shall be the junior 
of the lieutenant-generals," he wrote Lord Castle- 
reagh ; " however, I am ready to serve the Govern- 
ment wherever and as they please." Again he 
writes : " All I can say upon the subject is, that 
whether I am to command of the army or not, 
or am to quit it, I shall do my best to secure 
its success ; and you may depend upon it that I 
shall not hurry the operations or commence them 
one moment sooner than they ought to be com- 
menced in order that I may acquire the credit of 

Withal Wellesley was not the man to let slip 
golden opportunities. There was work to be done, 
by him or others ; he was still in command, and he 
acted with his usual judgment and promptitude. 
Having decided to disembark at the mouth of the 
Mondego River, for sound military reasons, he 
began the operation on the ist August and com- 
pleted it on the 8th. ** Further delay in disem- 
barkation," he reported, "might have discouraged 
the country ; " besides, he knew that he would be 
better able to arrange for "the movement and 
supply of the army when it shall be ashore than 
while it shall continue afloat." At this the very 
first blush of the business he was brought face to 
face with the difficulty that pressed him most sorely 


throughout the whole campaign. " I find the British 
commissariat to be ill-composed and incapable," he 
reported. Hence, in choosing his line of advance, 
he prefers that which will keep him in touch with 
the fleet, although communication on this storm- 
vexed coast was likely to be precarious. This 
further encouraged him to adopt an immediate and 
vigorous offensive. The lateness of the season, and 
the fact that after August the fleet would be com- 
pelled to take the open sea, impressed on him the 
importance of undertaking operations without loss 
of time. Leaving a letter of explanation to Sir 
Harry Burrard, who was hourly expected at the 
coast, he pushed on. 

Junot, who commanded the French in Portugal, 
at once prepared to resist Wellesley's advance, 
which was rapid and well-directed ; it cut in be- 
tween the French generals Loison and Laborde, 
leaving the latter to withstand singly the brunt of 
the British attack. The action of Roli9a, the first 
fought and won by Wellesley in the Peninsula, dis- 
posed of Laborde. The English leader then ad- 
vanced towards Lisbon, still clinging to the coast 
and the fleet, which had arrived with further rein- 
forcements. Meanwhile Junot had concentrated, 
and coming up in strength, found Wellesley in posi- 
tion at Vimiero, halted there by Burrard s direction 


—for the paralysing hand of the new commander was 
already extended to check enterprise. 

Fortunately the French took the initiative ; 
Junot attacked, rashly, and without reconnoitring 
the English position. The result was the victory 
of Vimiero, in which Junot was so roughly handled 
that, with vigorous pursuit, his whole army must have 
been destroyed. Again the excessive prudence of 
Sir Harry Burrard robbed success of its proper 
triumphs. Wellesley wished to follow up the ad- 
vantage : " I think if General Hill's brigade and the 
advanced guard had moved upon Torres Vedras 
. . . the enemy would have been cut off . . . and 
we should have been in Lisbon before him ; if, 
indeed, any French had remained in Portugal."* 
'* If I had not been prevented," he wrote Charles 
Stuart, **I should have pursued the enemy, and in all 
probability the whole would have been destroyed." 
How greatly he wais annoyed by the order to halt, 
was shown by his contemptuous remark to his staff 
when he received it. ** Then, gentlemen," he said, 
''there is nothing left for us to do but to hunt red- 
legged partridges." 

It is right to add that neither in his letters nor 
in his public utterances did he blame Burrard : " I 
have always entertained the opinion that Sir Harry 

' Wellesley to Duke of York, 22nd August 1808. 


Burrard decided upon fair military grounds, in the 
manner which appeared to him to be most con- 
ducive to the interests of the country ; and that 
he had no motive for his decision which could be 
supposed personal to me, or which as an officer 
he could not avow." Moreover, Burrard s decision 
was backed by his chief staff-officers, Clinton and 
Murray, respectively adjutant- and quartermaster- 
general ; and Napier, although he qualifies it as 
"erroneous," admits that *' error is common in an 
art which at best is but a choice of difficulties ; the 
circumstances of the moment were imposing enough 
to sway most generals. ..." Again, ** The facility 
of executing Sir Arthur's plan was not so im- 
posing on the field of battle as it was in the 

Burrard's period of control was short-lived. The 
day after Vimiero he in his turn was superseded 
by Sir Hew Dalrymple, a leader quite as unenter- 
prising as Burrard. Both agreed in their veto of 
Wellesley s proposal that Moore, who had arrived 
with his division off the Mondego, should disem- 
bark there and march south-east to intercept the 
French communications with Madrid. There was 
no sympathy between Dalrymple and his great lieu- 
tenant. ** I had reason to believe that I did 
not possess his confidence," he told the court of 


inquiry upon the Convention of Cintra ; " nay more, 
that he was prejudiced against the opinions which 
I should give him." It was Dairy mple he had 
in his mind when he said before the- same court : 
"It has been my misfortune to have been accused 
of temerity and imprudence, as well as of excess 
of caution, in the late transactions in Portugal ; ^ but 
without appealing to the result of what happened 
at the moment I gave over the command of the 
army, I may safely assert that whatever might be 
the difficulty of the operation, I had taken what 
means existed to bring it to a fortunate conclusion ; 
and that there was no ground for the apprehension 
of my safety which Sir Hew Dairy mple seems to 
have entertained." 

Wellesley was certainly not happy under the 
altered circumstances of the army in Portugal. He 
was cheered a little, no doubt, by the knowledge 
that he had earned the good-will of his comrades 
in arms. The general officers who had been under 
him sent him an address expressing their firm belief 
in him and their congratulations on his success, to 
which he replied with the modest disclaimer that 
he owed all to their cordial support and to the 
gallantry of the officers and soldiers, ** stimulated 
by your example and their discipline, aided and 

^ Campaign of Vimiero. 


directed by your experience and ability." These 
were his consolations, but his heart was really sore 
at his supersession. He did not wish to remain 
in Portugal. ** Matters are not prospering here, 
and I feel an earnest desire to quit the army. I 
have been too successful with this army ever to 
serve with it in a subordinate situation with satis- 
faction to the person who shall command, and of 
course not to myself However, I shall do what- 
ever the Government may wish." 

Writing again on the same subject, he tells Lord 
Castlereagh, ** It is quite impossible for me to con- 
tinue any longer with this army." He asks to 
be allowed to return to his post as Secretary for 
Ireland, if convenient to the Government ; if not, 
that he may be appointed to the staff in England, 
"or, if that should not be practicable, that I should 
remain without employment." "You will hear from 
others of the various causes which I must have 
for being dissatisfied, not only with the military 
and other public measures of the commander-in- 
chief, but with his treatment of myself I am 
convinced it is better for him, for the army, and 
for me that I should go away ; and the sooner I 
go the better." This friction, the want of harmony, 
the failure on the one hand to appreciate the great 
soldier at his proper value, his almost contemptuous 


resentment on the other, the little support given 
him at home, lasted till Waterloo. 

Wellesley s feelings at this period, when his 
budding career might have been so easily blighted 
and his deep anxiety that others should escape the 
slights which he endured, may be gathered from 
the letter he wrote Sir John Moore in September 
1808. The condition of the army in Portugal 
under its present leaders gave Wellesley great con- 
cern. "It appears to me quite impossible that we 
can go on as we are now constituted ; the com- 
mander-in-chief (Dalrymple) must be changed, and 
the country and the army naturally turn their eyes to 
you as their commander." Wellesley then touches 
delicately upon supposed differences between Moore 
and the king s ministers at home, and offers himself 
as an intermediary to set them right. " Although 
I hold a high office under government,^ I am no 
party man, but have long been connected in friend- 
ship with many of those persons who are now at 
the head of affairs in England ; and I think I have 
sufficient influence over them that they may listen 
to me upon a point of this description, more parti- 
cularly as I am convinced they must be as desirous 
as I can be to adopt the arrangement for the com- 
mand of this army which all are agreed is the best. 

^ He was still Secretary for Ireland. 


In these times, my dear general, a man like you 
should not preclude himself from rendering the 
services of which he is capable from any idle 
point of form." Wellington always expressed the 
highest opinion of Sir John Moore. The army in 
Portugal at that time, he told Lord Stanhope,^ 
believed there were only two officers present fit to 
command them. Sir John Moore and himself On 
one occasion he told Moore this, adding, "You 
are the man — and I shall with great willingness 
act under you." This is further shown by his 
letter to Moore from London in 1808, when he 
believed that he was to return to the Peninsula at 
once. ** I find I am to be under your command," 
he wrote, ** than which nothing can be more satis- 
factory to me." 

The Convention of Cintra now came to relieve 
Wellesley from his irksome, almost intolerable, situa- 
tion. This agreement, by which Junot surrendered 
Portugal in exchange for a safe-conduct to France, 
was furiously condemned in England, and all the 
generals concerned were recalled to stand their 
trial. Wellesley was also implicated, although he 
repudiated all responsibility for the terms of the 
Convention. ** I signed the document by His Ex- 
cellency Sir Hew Dalrymple's desire. But as I 

* •Conversations," p. 244. 

■yy/- L'wi ^///-(V'/r 



had not negotiated the agreement ... I could not 
consider myself responsible in any degree for the 
terms in which it was framed, nor for any of its 
provisions." He writes to a friend, " I have only 
to regret that I put my name to an agreement 
of which I did not approve and which I did not 
negotiate." Yet Sir Arthur to Lord Castlereagh 
admits that he thought it expedient that the French 
army should be allowed to evacuate Portugal with 
their arms and baggage, and that every facility for 
this purpose should be afforded them. Viewing the 
Convention at this distance of time, we must accept 
the impartial verdict of Napier that it was "a great 
and solid advantage to the allies, a blunder on 
the part of the French." Junot was by no means 
at his last gasp. He had a line of retreat still 
open through Elvas, and could regain Madrid by 
Merida and Almaraz. The forts at Lisbon still 
held out, and must have been reduced in due form ; 
Elvas and Almeida must also be captured ; the 
possession of Lisbon and the mouth of Tagus was 
indispensable as a base of supply, for the fleet could 
not remain off the coast after the weather broke. 
All these operations demanded time, and they 
might not be successfully completed before Napo- 
leon, already on the move to succour Junot, arrived. 
Napoleon himself disapproved of the Convention, 


and said plainly that he would have sent Junot 
before a council of war, " when fortunately the 
English tried their generals, and so saved me from 
the pain of punishing an old friend." 

The public outcry against the Convention could 
not be satisfied without the usual scapegoat. 
"Whom shall we hang.*^" was asked furiously in 
the press ; and a court of inquiry sat at Chelsea 
Hospital, before which Dalrymple, Burrard, and 
Wellesley were arraigned. If further evidence were 
needed of the breadth and strength of Wellesley 
as a controversialist, dealing with facts within his 
own knowledge and in which he was intimately 
concerned, it is to be found in his narratives and 
addresses prepared for this court. They are most 
voluminous, but never wearisome; every point is 
touched on with a master-hand. Nothing can be 
more dexterous than the way in which Wellesley 
fights his own case, without separating himself from 
his colleagues and superiors or leaving them alone 
to bear the brunt of measures for which, after all, 
they and not he were responsible. I am inclined 
to think that Wellesley's defence settled once and 
for all the question of his military capacity. No 
one can read these admirable papers without ad- 
mitting that they are the work of no common 
man. It is quite clear that they practically quashed 


these ridiculous proceedings. The court was not 
unanimous on the wisdom or otherwise of the 
Convention, on which indeed they were hardly 
competent to give an opinion, but they agreed 
that no further judicial measures were necessary. 
The verdict, in short, was acquittal. 

The irritation in the public mind was not yet 
appeased, however. In deference to it the generals 
incriminated were not permitted to return to Spain. 
Wellesley being still a member of Parliament, re- 
sumed his office as Secretary for Ireland, and was 
soon in a position to speak for himself in the House 
of Commons. The proposed vote of thanks to him 
and the army of Portugal was opposed, and the 
young general was bitterly assailed, especially by 
the well-known Banastre Tarleton, a general who 
had gained some distinction as a cavalry officer in 
the war with the American colonies. Tarleton 
gravely censured Wellesley 's generalship,* com- 
mitting himself to such silly strictures as that 
** there was something rash in the action of the 
17th August" (Roli^a, where the English outnum- 
bered the French as three to one!), *' something 
wrong in the action of the 21st" — a great victory, 

' His animosity was said to be due to bitter jealousy ; he thought he ought 
to have had the command in Portugal. Some notion of his principles may be 
gathered from one of his election cries, ** Liberty and the slave trade." 


robbed of its results by an interfering superior. 
Wellesley replied with great readiness and vigour, 
ably defending both the campaign and the Conven- 
tion, His retort ended with a few pregnant words : 
** I would far rather follow the gallant general s 
example in the field than his advice in the senate," 
although it may be doubted whether he would have 
always conquered had he done so. Tarleton had 
yet another opportunity of venting his rancour 
upon Wellesley. Within a year of the debate 
upon the Convention of Cintra the Commons were 
called upon to again vote their thanks to Wellesley, 
now about to be created a peer. The proposed 
honour was fiercely opposed in Parliament, in the 
city of London, and by a portion of the press. One 
speaker in the Lords said : ** Why reward Sir Arthur 
Wellesley.'^ His actions are imprudent, foolish, and 
presumptuous. He does not know how to provide 
for the subsistence of his soldiers ... he has ex- 
posed our army to unexampled calamities, and has 
conducted himself throughout so as to merit punish- 
ment rather than reward." The Common Council 
of London petitioned against the bill brought in 
to the Commons proposing a pension of ;^2ooo a 
year to Wellington, and ** implored the sovereign to 
prevent his ministers from rewarding one who in 
the campaign of Talavera had exhibited, with equal 


rashness and ostentation, nothing but a useless 

The removal of Dalrymple and Burrard from 
Portugal left Moore in command of the army, now 
numbering some 40,000 men, and early in October 
he advanced into Spain. Some account of his 
operationis, and of his famous retreat on Corunna 
which cost him his life, will be given hereafter when 
dealing with Moore — a fine soldier who deserved 
better fortune. Moore's failure did not shake the 
resolve of the British people to renew the contest 
in the Peninsula. Castlereagh sought Wellesley s 
advice, arid got it in the form of a memorandum 
upon the defence of Portugal, which is another of 
the many remarkable papers drawn up by Wel- 
lesley in these early days. His views were clear 
and precise: '* I have always been of opinion that 
Portugal might be defended, whatever might be 
the result of the contest in Spain ; and that in the 
meantime the measures adopted for the defence of 
Portugal would be highly useful to the Spaniards 
in their contest with the French." The burthen of 
defence he would impose upon Portugal, backed and 
reinforced by a British contingent ; the Portuguese 
army to be increased and reconstituted under the 
command of British officers, its cavalry and artil- 
lery completed, the guns re-horsed ; the Portuguese 


exchequer replenished by British gold. ** If Por- 
tugal were properly held it could give occupation 
to, and probably withstand, 100,000 French troops." 
The strength of the strategic frontier of Portugal 
no doubt weighed also with so shrewd a mili- 
tary observer as Wellesley. Portugal as viewed 
from Spain presented a strong natural barrier of 
mountains pierced only by two good roads. These 
inlets were guarded by two places of arms — Almeida 
on the northern, Elvas on the southern approach. 
The whole country was one fortress, as it were ; a 
secure foothold from which we could not be easily 
dislodged, a strong base from which to launch out 
in attack. 

Wellesley s thorough grasp of the situation more 
than justified his reappointment to the command 
in the Peninsula. It is claimed for him by some 
eulogistic writers that even now, in 1809, he fore- 
saw with the prescience of a great mind how the 
seemingly inexpugnable fabric of Napoleon's power 
might be undermined. He had realised, they say, 
and it is possibly true, the insecurity of its founda- 
tions ; he saw that the colossal empire created by 
Napoleon's genius was of too rapid growth, and 
contained within itself the elements of decay. The 
tenacious resistance of a stubborn people, backed by 
British blood and British treasure, in a far-off corner 


in Europe, might sap the strength of the universal 
conqueror, and bring about his overthrow in the 
end. It may be doubted whether Wellesley made 
any such precise and elaborate forecast, although he 
may have looked for, Hoped for its accomplishment. 
But he was no dreamer ; he had, of course, a great 
end in view, to be compassed eventually, but only 
by the slow development of such means as he 
had at hand. These, as we shall see, were imper- 
fect enough, but he made the most of them ; and 
his patience, his self-reliance, the painstaking and 
minute skill with which he overcame difficulties, 
lived down calumny, conquered incompetence and 
half-hearted support, are better proofs of his great- 
ness than his undoubted genius in war. 



Wellesley returns to Portugal — Nearly shipwrecked— The opposing 
armies — Passage of the Douro — Spanish allies worthless— Talavera — 
Privations of British troops— Critical position of Wellesley — His 
escape — Increasing difficulties of supply. 

WELLESLEY, after a tempestuous voyage 
in H.M.S. Surveillantey which narrowly 
escaped shipwreck off the coast of the 
Isle of Wight, landed at Lisbon on 22nd April 
1809, amid general rejoicings, and at once applied 
himself to the first part of his gigantic task, the 
expulsion of the French from Portugal. 

It will be well here to review the position and 
relative strength of the opponents who were soon 
to come into collision. 

Early this year Napoleon had laid his plans 
for the recovery of Portugal and the invasion of 
Andalucia. He had some ioo,cxx) men available 
throughout the Peninsula, and three principal 
armies, backed by a strong reserve in Madrid, were 
set in motion. 

1°. Soult, who occupied Gallicia, was to invade 



Portugal from the north, seize Oporto, and march 
on Lisbon. 

2^ Lapisse at Salamanca was to co-operate 
with Soult, moving though Ciudad Rodrigo on 
Abrantes, thus taking Soult's left flank. 

3°. Victor, in the valley of the Tagus about 
Talavera, was to reach out to the south to Merida, 
whence he could reinforce Soult if required. When 
Soult had taken Lisbon, Victor and Lapisse com- 
bined were to invade Andalucia. 

Much delay was caused by the bickerings of the 
French marshals ; want of stores and cash further 
checked Soult, and he did not enter Oporto till the 
29th March. Victor had refused to move until 
Lapisse, diverted from his right direction, had been 
ordered to join him at Merida. They were there 
united on the 22nd April, 30,000 strong. On that 
day Soult with 20,000 men was still in Oporto, his 
rear much hampered by Spanish and Portuguese 

Passage of the Douro. 

22nd April. — Wellesley had under his command : 
i*'. 26,000 British and German troops massed 

at Leiria, south of the Mondego River. 

2°. Beresford with the reorganised Portuguese 

regulars, 16,000 men, at Thomar. 



3°. Some Portuguese militia who were watching 
Soult ; and there were also 

4°. Two Spanish armies collecting, one south 
of Merida under Cuesta, the other under Venegas 
at Carolina, behind the Sierra Morena. 

Wellesley, eager to take the initiative, was now 
called upon to decide whether he would attack 
Soult or Victor. He resolved to adopt the first 
course, and detaching a small force towards 
Abrantes, to observe or ** contain " Victor, he 
marched northward with his main body. He 
had good military reasons for choosing the attack 
on Soult. Although Victor was a more pressing 
danger to Lisbon, Soult was * isolated, and if he 
could be driven out of the rich province he occu- 
pied, it would greatly revive the spirits of the 
Portuguese. Besides, moving with promptitude, 
Wellesley could be on the banks of the Douro 
before the news reached Victor, who was many 
more marches distant from Lisbon. He could 
first crush Soult (as he did), then return to deal 
with Victor. 

^th May, — Wellesley was concentrated at Coim- 
bra. That day Beresford with 6000 Portuguese was 
directed by Viseu and Lamego to cross high up 
the Douro, and strike at Amarante, on Soult s 
main line of communication with Spain. 


nth May. — Wellesley came into touch and 
skirmished with Soult's advance. Soult withdrew 
entirely behind the Douro, and prepared to retreat 
on Amarante. 

i2tk May. — Soult s move on Amarante would 
have jeopardised Beresford, so Wellesley decided 
to force the passage of the Douro at all hazards, 
and bring the enemy to action. The only bridge 
across this raging river 300 yards wide had been 
destroyed, and all the boats had been gathered 
in to the French side. Wellesley nevertheless 
secured four barges through the intrepidity of 
Colonel Waters, and threw over a first detach- 
ment into the Seminary, a strong building capable 
of defence, which, held by constant reinforcements, 
successfully resisted all Soult s attacks. More and 
more boats were obtained ; the Guards crossed 
below, while Murray's brigade, which had forded 
the river at Avintas, came down from above. Soult 
was lost He could only fall back hastily, his 
retreat soon degenerating into a disordered rout. 

This daring operation, one of the most diffi- 
cult, that of crossing a deep and rapid river in 
the face of an enemy strongly posted, and con- 
stituting **a surprise without example in the annals 
of war,"^ was accomplished with a loss of only 

* Thiers. 


twenty killed. Soult lost scx) men, many guns, 
and much ammunition in Oporto. Now in his 
headlong flight on Amarante he found that Beres- 
ford had forestalled him, and his situation became 
most critical. He only escaped by destroying his 
baggage and artillery and taking a circuitous route 
by mule tracks and goat paths. When he gained 
Orense and Lugo on the 19th, his force was deci- 
mated and disorganised, being, as Jomini puts it, '* in 
a far worse plight than Moore six months before." 

Wellesley's passage of the Douro has been 
condemned as a rash act, but it was surely justified 
by its striking success. The plan of campaign was 
strategically sound, and the execution judicious. 
The rapidity of Wellesley's movements was extra- 
ordinary ; within .twenty-six days of his departure 
from England he had cleared Northern Portugal 
of the French and dealt Soult a terrible blow. 

It was time now to turn southward. Victor 
and Lapisse, hoping to relieve the pressure upon 
Soult, had threatened Portugal. They were now 
in the valley of the Tagus, but they fell back, at 
Wellesley s approach, behind the Alberche, covering 
Madrid, and near Talavera, a name soon to become 
famous in military annals. Wellesley, coming by 
Abrantes, marched through Castello Branco, and 
was at Plasencia on the 27th June. He was now 


to make his first experience of the worthlessness 
of his Spanish allies ; to find the generals incom- 
petent, the troops a mere rabble. He had to 
concert operations with Cuesta — an irritable, con- 
ceited, crotchety old man, who had already one leg 
in the grave, whose favourite conveyance in the 
field was a coach and six ; if he mounted a horse 
it was with the assistance of grenadiers, who held 
him in the saddle ; when he got off he went to sleep 
on the cushions brought from his carriage. The 
whimsical perverseness of his disposition made him 
more and more impracticable every day. ** It is 
impossible to do business with him,'* wrote Wel- 
lesley, " and very uncertain that any operations will 
succeed in which he has any concern." The battle 
of Talavera was won in spite of him, after other 
fair opportunities had been lost ; the victory was 
barren of great results, because Cuesta and all the 
Spanish authorities were faithless to their promises 
and left the British troops to starve. 

Campaign of Talavera. 

July 2Ttk. — King Joseph, advancing with all 
men available from Madrid, had joined Victor, and 
the whole, 50,000 strong, moved rapidly forward 
to attack Wellesley, who was now in position at 


Talavera. So rapid was their advance that Sir 
Arthur was himself almost caught at the outposts, 
and all but made prisoner. The Spaniards behind 
entrenchments held the right of the allied line, a 
post Cuesta would not take until he "made the 
proud Englishman go down on his knees" to im- 
plore his co-operation. The rest of the position — 
the centre and left — was occupied by the British 
and Germans. 

2%th July. — After a sharp contest the previous 
evening for the key of the position — during which 
many of the Spaniards, although safe behind earth- 
works, bolted to the rear — the real battle began 
about noon. It was fought out with great impetu- 
osity and courage, but was won at last by the 
British, largely through Wellesley's tactical skill. 
He was ubiquitous on the field, always at the right 
place at the right moment, and by his masterly dis- 
positions ever strongest at the decisive point. A 
greater general than Joseph might have made a 
final effort to retrieve disaster with his unbroken 
reserves, but Napoleon's brother was not Napoleon, 
and next day the French drew off again behind 
the Alberche. 

It was the first great encounter in the war. The 
brunt of it was borne by the British, and it fully 
proved both their true soldierly qualities and the 


generalship of their leader. Yet the troops were 
largely recruits and militia; *' with the exception of 
the Guards and a few others, there were more knap- 
sacks with the names of militia regiments on them 
than of numbered regular regiments." And the men 
fought starving. A few grains of wheat had been 
their sole sustenance for many hours previous. On 
the night of the 27th, before the great battle, soldiers 
prayed to be allowed to go down and fight, because 
*'when engaged they forgot their hunger." *' It is 
a positive fact/' VVellesley wrote on the 31st, **that 
during the last seven days the British army have not 
received one-third of their provisions, and that at 
this moment there are nearly 4000 wounded soldiers 
dying in hospital for want of common assistance 
and necessaries which any other country in the 
world would have given even to its enemies. I posi- 
tively will not move, nay more, I will disperse 
my army, till I am supplied with provisions and 
means of transport as I ought to be." This retreat 
was forced upon him by other causes, as we shall 
see ; but the want of supplies would, in any case, 
have made it inevitable. "A starving army is 
worse than none," was Wellesley's lamentation at 
this time ; *'the soldiers lose their discipline and spirit. 
... A fortnight ago they beat double their numbers. 
I should now hesitate to meet a French corps of 


half their strength." Again he remarks : ** If we had 
had 60,000 men instead of 20,000, in all probability 
we should not have got to Talavera to fight, for 
want of means and provisions. They could have 
got no farther in any case, and the armies must 
have separated for want of subsistence, probably 
without a battle, certainly afterwards." 

Now, however, a sudden and unexpected danger 
arose, over and above the needs of the army, and 
obliged him peremptorily to retreat. The Spanish 
alliance was valueless even in the one respect 
of obtaining early and authentic intelligence; and 
Cuesta, in his own country, with every facility for 
gaining news, remained ignorant to the last of 
movements to the northward that now placed 
the allies in a position of imminent peril. Three 
French army corps had concentrated north of the 
Douro, under the orders of the lately discomfited 
Soult, following the sagacious conclusion of Napo- 
leon, who, although in Austria far removed from the 
theatre of war, had written : *• Wellesley will most 
likely advance by the Tagus against Madrid. In 
that case pass the mountains, fall on his flank and rear, 
and crush him." The concentration was long de- 
layed by the ever-present jealousies of the marshals, 
but on the i8th July, Soult, Ney, and Mortier 
combined under the command of the first named ; 


50,coo men were in motion on Salamanca and the 
Pass of Banos. This pass and that of Perales 
adjoining were the only practicable roads through 
the mountains, and Wellesley now thought to bar 
both passages, entrusting the duty to Cuesta, who 
entirely neglected it. 

On the 31st July Soults advance entered Pla- 
sencia, and on 3rd August the first news thereof 
reached Wellesley at Oropesa. He now learnt to 
his dismay, moreover, that Soult had three corps 
with him ;. that he had cut him from one line of 
retreat across the Tagus, by the bridge of Almaraz ; 
and that Cuesta, terrified by Joseph's renewed 
advance from Madrid, had abandoned Talavera, 
crowded with English wounded. 

Wellesley 's position was thus critical in the ex- 
treme. The peril was apparent not to him alone, 
but to every soldier in the British ranks. His very 
existence was jeopardised. Overwhelming numbers 
hemmed him ; the French were acting in combi- 
nation against his front, his van, and his line of 
retreat. It was an occasion that demanded the 
highest fortitude, the utmost despatch. Wellesley 
rose to it, and at once fell back across the Tagus, 
using the bridge at Arzobispo, and adopting the line 
of Truxillo-Merida on Badajoz and the Portuguese 
frontier. What he felt himself may be gathered 


from his own words : ** We were in a bad scrape, 
and I really believe that if I had not determined to 
retire at the moment I did, all retreat would have 
been cut off for us both " (himself and Cuesta). 

Thus ended the campaign of the Douro and 
Talavera, a series of brilliant successes neutralised 
by causes beyond his control. ** I hope," he writes 
home, *'that my public despatch will justify me from 
all blame in the eyes of his Majesty's Ministers 
except that of having trusted the Spaniards in any- 
thing." His painful experience of this had been 
already recorded in a despatch written before the 
retreat : '* We are worse off here (Talavera) than in 
an enemy s country. The Spaniards make all sorts 
of promises and accomplish none ; their armies 
render us no assistance whatever ; on the contrary, 
we are obliged to abandon our stores and to empty 
the military chest to employ the waggons in trans- 
porting the sick and wounded. They (the Spaniards) 
violate all the laws of humanity, and compel us to 
leave behind ammunition, provisions, and money. 
Everything must be done by the English army." 

Again on the same subject, when retreating, he 
says : ^ '*This army will be useless in Spain, and will 
be entirely lost if this treatment is to continue ; and 
I must say that if any efficient measures of relief 

' 8th August 1899, to Marquis Wellesley, British Minister at Cadiz. 


had been adopted by the (Spanish) Government 
when they first received accounts of our distresses 
from the want of provisions, we ought before now 
to have received the benefit of them." He sharply 
upbraids the Spanish commanders, who had promised 
that the privations should cease, that there should 
be plenty of food in future, for their breach of faith, 
and declares that he has no confidence in their 
assurances. " I give no credit to the accounts of 
the existence of resources said to be upon the road 
(in what place not known), or of any others in the 
magazine at TruxiUo." The latter he found, from 
reports received, did **not contain enough to feed 
the British army one day only." He holds the 
Spanish authorities responsible for the consequences 
of this shameful neglect ; those ** who have allowed 
a brave army that was rendering gratuitous service 
to Spain, that was able and willing to pay for every- 
thing it received, to starve in the centre of their 
country, and to be reduced by want almost to a 
state of inefficiency." Once more he plainly warns 
Lord Wellesley : *' Till the evils of which I think 
I have reason to complain are remedied ; till I shall 
see magazines established for the supply of the 
armies, and a regfular system adopted for keeping 
them filled ; and an army on whose exertions I can 
depend, commanded by officers capable and willing 


to carry into execution the operations which may 
be planned by mutual agreement, I cannot enter 
upon any system of co-operation with the Spanish 
armies." From henceforth he will fight for the 
Spaniards, but never with them. He puts this 
plainly before the British Government in a letter 
that deserves to be quoted at length in this place : — 
** I wish that the eyes of the people of England 
were open to the real state of affairs in Spain, as 
mine are ; and I only hope, if they should not be 
so now, that they will not purchase the experience 
by the loss of an army. We have gained a great 
and glorious victory over more than double our 
numbers, which has proved to the French that they 
are not the first military nation in the world. ^ But 
the want of common management in the Spaniards, 
and of the common assistance which every country 
gives to an army and of which this country gives 
most plentifully to the French, have deprived us 
of all the fruits of it. The Spaniards have neither 
numbers, efficiency, discipline, bravery, nor arrange- 
ment to carry on the contest." Again he reminds 
Marshal Beresford that it is a mistake to think that 
the Portuguese and Spanish armies only wanted 

^ " This battle (Talavera) recovered the glory of the successors of Marl- 
borough, which for a century had declined. It was felt that the English 
infantry could contend with the best in Europe."— ^<7OTm/. 


"discipline, properly so called. They want the 
habits and spirit of soldiers — the habits of command 
on one side and of obedience on the other — mutual 
confidence between officers and men, and, above 
all, the determination in the superiors to obey the 
orders they receive, let what will be the conse- 
quence, and the spirit to tell the true cause if they 
do not." 



His steadfast sanguine spirit — He works "like a galley-slave" — 
Troublesome officers — Crime in his army — Outrages and excesses — 
Punitive measures — His minute supervision. 

THE epoch through which Wellington^ had 
now entered, beginning with the retreat 
from Talavera and lasting through the 
years 1809, 18 10, and 181 1, is surely the most 
remarkable in his whole career. Now, when most 
sorely tried, he gave convincing proof of his fine 
qualities and securely consolidated his reputation. 
It will be well to pause and consider his position 
at this particular time. Here was a great man 
struggling with adversity, one bearing a grievous 
burthen alone and almost unaided, with no firm 
backing from home. All he could get from the 
Government was a confession of their own weak- 
ness. ** We are powerless," they wrote him. 

^ The petty opposition in Parliament that would have denied his services 

their proper recognition had happily been defeated, and in August 1S09 he 

was created a peer by the titles of Baron Douro of Wellesley and Viscount 

Wellington of Talavera. 





** Be prudent; above all, run no risks.'* His own 
opinion of these masters was low enough: **The 
Government are terribly afraid I shall get them 
into a scrape. But what can be expected from 
men who are beaten in the House of Commons 
three times a week ? A great deal might be done 
now if there existed in England less party and 
more public sentiment, or if there was any public 
sentiment." ^ 

He knew full well that he would get no support. 
But he was quite undaunted. *' I act with a sword 
hanging over me (this was apropos of the attack 
made on him by the Corporation of London), which 
will fall upon me whatever may be the result of 
affairs here ; but they may do what they please : I 
shall not give up the game here as long as it can 
be played." " I believe there never was any officer, 
but certainly never a British officer, placed in so 
difficult a situation as I am in." '* If ever there 
were an officer at the head of an army interested 
(personally, I may say) in keeping down the ex- 
penses of the army, it is myself ; for I am left wholly 
to my own resources, and am obliged to supply the 
wants of the allies, as well as of the British army, 
from what I can get ; and if I fail, God will, I hope, 
have mercy upon me, for nobody else will." 

^ To Admiral Berkeley, i8io. 


He knew, of course, of the attack made upon him 
in Parliament, and retorted that it had not ** given 
him one moment s concern," so far as he was per- 
sonally concerned ; *' indeed I rejoice at it,* as it has 
given my friends an opportunity of setting the public 
right on some points on which they had not been 
informed, and on others on which the misrepresen- 
tations had driven the truth from their memories. 

But I regret that men like Lord * and others 

should carry the spirit of party so far as to attack an 
officer in his absence, should take the ground of their 
attack from Cobbett and the Moniteur, and should 
at once blame him for circumstances and events 
over which he could have no control, and for faults 
which, if they were committed at all, were not 
committed by him." 

His steadfastness and self-reliance under these 
adverse and irritating conditions compels un- 
bounded admiration. ** Being embarked in a course 
of military operations of which I hope to see the 
successful termination, I shall continue to carry 
them on to the end.^ Having been entrusted with 
the command and exclusively with the conduct of 
the military operations, I will not suffer them (the 

^ To Lord Liverpool, the head of the Ministry. 

^ Lord Grenville or Lord Moira. 

^ To Charles Stuart, relative to Principal Souza's interference with him. 


Portuguese Regency) or anybody else to interfere 
with them; that I know best where to station my 
troops and where to make a stand against the 
enemy, and I shall not alter a system framed upon 
mature consideration upon any suggestion of theirs. 
I am responsible for what I do, and they are not. 
False reports and deceptions of every description 
are tried. . . . However, nothing of this kind shall 
make me take one step either way which is not 
dictated by my sense of what is best for the 

He was still sanguine in the teeth of all trials 
and rebuffs. **The affairs of the Peninsula," he 
remarks most philosophically, ** have invariably 
had the same appearance since I have known 
them ; they have always appeared to be lost ; 
means have always appeared inadequate to ob- 
jects ; and the sole dependence of the whole has 
apparently been upon us. The contest, however, 
still continues, and is in its third year. . . . The 
French threaten us at all points, and are most 
desirous to get rid of us. But they threaten at 
too many points at a time to give me much 
uneasiness respecting any one in particular, and 
they shall not induce me to disconnect my 
army. I am in a situation in which no mischief 
can be done to the army or any part of it ; I 


iU.J.UJi>." » ■"-'^^^P^^-^^—1 . ■^>-"^*<— 1^*^ 


am prepared for all events ; and if I am in a 
scrape, as appears to be the general belief in 
England, although certainly not my own, Til get 
out of it."^ 

All this time there was enough in his daily 
work as commander of the forces and general 
administrator to unnerve and discourage any but 
the strongest, the most self-reliant and resourceful 
man. " I work like a galley-slave," he wrote his 
brother at Cadiz, "and yet I effect nothing." He 
has given us a striking picture of himself, drawn 
by his own pen, in those famous despatches of his, 
which bear such ample testimony to his general- 
ship, his prescience, his masterfulness, and, above 
all, his unwearied industry and indomitable pluck. 
It will be seen that he did nearly everything him- 
self; controlled every department civil and military, 
often created them or improved their machinery, 
dealt direct with their heads and with the British 
representatives at Lisbon and Cadiz. In all army 
matters, the business of his own profession, he of 
course showed himself thoroughly at home. He 
exercised the functions of command with the same 
intimate knowledge, the same minute attention to 
details, that have already been noticed in his Indian 

^ To Colonel Torrens, Military Secretary at the Horse Guards. 


This may be at once observed by a perusal of 
his correspondence, and the general orders issued 
from time to time, which were presently codified 
and printed for easy reference. Both personnel 
and materiel become objects of his minute pains- 
taking care. Officers general and regimental, the 
rank and file, the interior economy of units, the 
marches, baggage, discipline, supplies and so forth : 
he touches upon all in turn, always thoroughly, often 
at great length. 

His generals often gave him much trouble. 
There was the case of one subordinate who pro- 
tested against being called upon to command a 
brigade with which Portuguese troops were in- 
corporated ; but Lord Wellington declines to give 
any engagement that this officer should be em- 
ployed with any particular description of troops. 
"As commander-in-chief of the allied army," he 
says, '* I consider myself wholly and solely re- 
sponsible that his Majesty's troops shall not be 
employed in improper situations, and the major- 
generals or other superior officers responsible only 
that they and those under them do their duty in 
the situation in which they may be employed." 
The over-punctilious general in question was there- 
fore told that he might resign his command and 
go home. In those early years of the war he had 



been unable to secure the assistance of invariably 
the right men ; as yet he had come to trust few of 
those about him except Hill, Beresford, Graham, 
and Craufurd ; and he evidently doubted Horse 
Guards patronage, for we find he earnestly implored 
Lord Liverpool to see that no violent party men 
were sent out to him : ** We must keep the spirit 
of party out of the army, or we shall be in a bad 
way indeed." 

If he looked askance at some of his generals, 
he equally disapproved of many officers in the lower 
grades, and visited upon them much of the blame 
for the frequent misconduct of his troops. He was 
unhesitatingly of opinion that the whole discipline 
and regularity of the army depended upon the 
regimental officers, particularly of the subalterns, 
and that they often failed in their duty in this re- 
spect : ** I may order what I please ; but if they 
(the officers) do not execute what I order, or if they 
execute with negligence, I cannot expect that British 
soldiers will be orderly or regular." He was satis- 
fied that all soldiers, young or old, could march 
long distances, and answer all the calls made upon 
them, if once their officers were properly attentive, 
if they saw to the men s food, ** if they prevented 
them from straggling from their corps on a march, 
or from their quarters or camp in search of wine 


and plunder after the march is made." Once again, 
in a general order, he says emphatically : ** Officers of 
companies must attend to the men in their quarters 
as well as on the march, or the army will very soon 
be no better than a banditti." 

Crime was no doubt terribly prevalent in the 
Peninsular army almost from first to last. It is with 
a sense of shame that we accept the undoubted and 
most humiliating evidence of the despatches and 
orders on this particular point — evidence fully corro- 
borated by contemporary history. Wellington was 
often upbraided in after years for his scathing re- 
flections upon the troops to whom he owed his 
triumphs. He was prepared to admit that he could 
always trust them to get him out of a scrape where 
Souk's men would have left him in the lurch. Yet 
he was ungenerous enough to call them ** the scum 
of the earth," and to declare that all English soldiers 
enlisted for drink or to escape the consequences of 
evil-doing. Almost in the same breath, however, 
he adds that '* they are fine fellows," and, *' consider- 
ing their origin, it is wonderful so much is made 
out of them after enlistment." The truth is always 
unpalatable, but it was still true that the turbulent 
element preponderated in the Peninsular army, and 
that when it came to the surface, as at the sack of 
Badajoz or St. Sebastian, the bravest men proved 


miscreants, and foul scenes were enacted that dis- 
graced the British name. 

The curse of Wellington s army was drink, as it 
has been of most British armies, until these latter 
days, when happily the vice of drunkenness among 
our soldiers is fast disappearing. Some allowances 
must certainly be made for those Peninsular men, 
who were exposed to so many privations, and thus 
constantly tempted into marauding and excess. It 
was true that ** they could not resist wine," ^ a fruitful 
source of crime in these campaigns ; but they had to 
fight also against hunger, a much more imperious 
need. Yet the whole indictment against them is 
grave, and their general's repeated, well-substan- 
tiated, indignant complaints are not the pleasantest 
reading. Now, he says (31st May 1809) : " I have 
long been of opinion that a British army could bear 
neither success nor failure, and I have had many 
proofs of the truth of this opinion in the first of 
its branches in the recent conduct of the troops.** 
Again, on the same date, to Lord Castlereagh : *'The 
army behaves terribly ill. They are a rabble who 
cannot bear success any more than Sir John Moore's 

^ " No soldier can withstand the temptation of wine. This is constantly 
before their eyes in this country, and they are constantly intoxicated when 
Ihey are absent from their regiments. There is no crime which they do not 
commit to obtain money to purchase it, or if they cannot get money, to obtain 
it by force." — Wellington to Colonel Torrens, November 1810. 


army could bear failure. I ain endeavouring to 
tame them, but if I should not succeed, I must make 
an official complaint of them, and send one or 
two corps home in disgrace They plunder in all 

A fortnight later he writes : ** I cannot with pro- 
priety omit to draw attention again to the state of 
discipline of the army, which is a subject of serious 

concern to me, and well deserves the considera- 


tion of his Majesty's Ministers. It is impossible 
to describe to you the irregularities and outrages 
committed by the troops ; outrages are committed 
whenever they are ouj of sight of their officers. 
Notwithstanding the pains I take, . . . not a post 
or courier comes in, not an officer arrives from the 
rear of the army, that does not bring me accounts 
of outrages committed by the soldiers. ..." The 
general orders contain frequent references to these 
excesses : ** The commander of the forces is con- 
cerned to hear that last night several soldiers came 
into the town of Badajoz and plundered a bakery 
and the houses of several individuals of bread." 
Notwithstanding repeated orders, the men will 
plunder beehives. ** The practice of taking roots 
and vegetables without paying for them must 
be entirely discontinued." There is still worse. 
Capital punishment must be adjudged for a crime 


*'too common in this army" ; several soldiers were 
executed for robbing and ill-treating an inhabitant 
of this country whom they met on the road — a 
crime which " the commander of the forces is 
determined in no instance to forgive." He is next 
concerned to publish details of murder committed 
by the troops ; ** the men were in uniform, and after 
the murders they robbed the house of money and 
jewellery." In February 1810 three privates were 
arraigned before a general court-martial for high- 
way robbery, and sentenced to be hanged ; the same 
fate meets another for plunder and desertion, and 
two more for burglariously entering a dwelling- 
house Burglary and highway robbery were com- 
mon crimes in Portugal ; so was drunkenness 
on duty, desertion, mutiny, and insubordination, 
laying embargo on carts and transport animals, 
and various high-handed proceedings against the 
native population. 

There is but an occasional short-lived ray of 
light in all this darkness. ** I certainly think the 
army are improved. They are a better army than 
they were some months ago," he writes to Lord 
Liverpool. ** But still these terrible continued 
outrages give me reason to apprehend that, not- 
withstanding all the precautions I have taken and 
shall take, they will slip through my fingers, as 


they did through Sir John Moore s, when I shall 
be involved in any nice operation with a powerful 
enemy in my front" The precautions of which 
he speaks were strictly repressive measures, such 
as he had learnt to use in India, and now again 
applied with even increased severity : " The rolls 
shall be called in the different corps of the 4th 
Division every hour till further orders, and the 
commander of the forces desires that no soldier 
may be allowed to quit his lines on any account, 
except in charge of an officer. The provost must 
punish all found disobeying this order." 

The provost-marshal had plenary powers and 
several assistants ; it was their business to enforce 
obedience to army general orders, and preserve 
discipline among soldiers and camp followers by a 
summary administration of the "cat." The last 
power was, however, strictly limited, and corporal 
punishment could only be inflicted upon offenders 
caught in the very act. The provost's authority, 
as defined by Lord Wellington later, was ** based 
only upon necessity and custom, and should be 
jealously watched." He might hang out of hand 
those caught committing outrage, but this power of 
life and death was not extended to his assistants, 
who could not execute even the most heinous 
offenders. In the case of the plundered beehives, 


Wellington ordered that the regiment owning the 
marauders sriould be at once "turned out and 
placed under arms " ; ** they are not to quit their 
arms till one hour after sunset, when they are to 
be sent to their huts and sentries placed round the 
camp. . . ." This was to be continued day after 
day, and the men were to stand by their arms 
from sunrise to sunset until the plunderers were 
discovered. Marauding was Wellington's bite noir, 
to be checked by every possible means. General 
officers were often desired to hold unexpected kit 
inspections at the end of the day's march, when 
** everything not strictly regimental necessaries 
(found in the men's packs), is to be taken from 
them and burnt, and those who have these articles 
punished, as they must certainly have been ob- 
tained by plunder." 

While discipline was thus maintained with a 
strong hand, Wellington laboured hard to make his 
army effective and to improve the military qualities 
of his troops. No matter was too s'mall for his 
supervision or correction. He could write with 
minute knowledge upon bill-hooks and camp-kettles, 
discussing seriously whether the latter should be of 
iron or tin ; he could enlarge upon the proper 
packing of blankets, show how requisitions should 
be made out for equipment and necessaries, tents. 


great-coats, supplies of all sorts ; he created his 
commissariat out of the most unpromising mate- 
rials, people " incapable of conducting any business 
beyond a counting-house " ; his orders were precise 
as to the issue of bread, forage, shoes ; his regula- 
tion of transport, of carts and bat mules, by far 
the most troublesome service throughout the war, 
was exactly adapted to the situation. His eye was 
everywhere, on all ranks, on all departments, at all 
times. He will not suffer "the cavalry in winter 
quarters to lose the habit of marching " ; infantry 
are to be regularly exercised in the same way ; the 
divisions were to be taken out route marching at 
least three leagues, and practised in manoeuvres and 
outpost drill. He was for ever urging constant 
watchfulness in the presence of the enemy. Just 
before Talavera he ordered that *' one-third of each 
regiment (is) to remain accoutred in the lines, and 
the whole must be on the alert." At such times he 
was most particular in his precautions for protecting 
his baggagfe and preventing stragglers. The last 
were his peculiar aversion ; he would not tolerate 
straggling on the line of march. It was *'a most 
unmilitary practice, most inconvenient, leading to 
loss"; "the enemy has taken 100 British soldiers 
straggling in the rear and on the flanks of the army." * 

* July 1812. 


Many severe measures were tried to check it, but 
not always with success. A report of absentees was 
to be made nightly to the brigadier ; an officer was 
to be sent back along the rear as far as the rear- 
guard to pick up men missing. Again Wellington 
threatens three regiments, " notorious offenders in 
this respect, having more stragglers than all the 
rest of the army," that he will send them into 
garrison, and report their conduct especially to his 



Wellington plays a waiting game — His enemies at home — The Govern- 
ment powerless to help him — Overpowering strength of the French — 
Massena's invasion — Busaco — ^Torres Vedras — Unfriendly critics — 
Massena retreats — Albuera. 

WITH the withdrawal into Portugal in 1809, 
Wellington entered into the most trying 
period of his life. He was face to 
face with the naked truth that he must depend 
mainly on his own resources, and fight the French 
almost alone. He resolved, therefore, to develop 
the Portuguese army and play a waiting game. 
But now he was denounced by the Opposition at 
home, while his own friends in the Government 
gave him but lukewarm support, neglecting his just 
demands, refusing his drafts for money and more 
men. The bitterest language was used against 
him. *' It is truly melancholy and alarming that 
Wellington should have the impertinence to think 
of defending Portugal with 50,000 men of whom 
only 20,000 are English," said one speaker in Par- 
liament. "If the French entertain serious designs 



on the country (Portugal), before three months 
Wellington and his army will be in England." 
Another declared that ** the impossibility of defence 
is so self-evident, that to reason upon it any further 
would be worse than ridiculous. Before six months 
are over, if our troops do not escape on board ship, 
the only English soldiers left in the Peninsula 
will be prisoners." ** The mere proposal to hold 
Portugal is the climax of error." Lord Grenville 
declared **upon his conscience" that he did not 
believe the whole British army could secure that 
kingdom, and " any one who said it was unfit to 
govern. . . . We could only retain Portugal so 
long as Bonaparte permitted." Nothing could save 
the situation, thought Lord Holland, but ** a great 

In truth this great plan had already taken shape 
in Wellington's brain, as we shall presently see ; but 
he religiously guarded the secret. Meanwhile the 
timid Government he served could only urge him to 
be prudent, to run no risks ; they were ''powerless 
to help him." Now, indeed, a storm was gather- 
ing in the near horizon, dark enough to daunt 
any but the most fearless spirit. Peace in Central 
Europe had set free Napoleon's legions, and he 
was at liberty to concentrate an enormous force 
in Spain for the expulsion of the English and the 


complete subjugation of the Peninsula. By the 
middle of the year 18 10 the French in Spain 
numbered 366,000, under the most famous French 
generals. Soult was to be launched against the 
rich province of Andalucia. Massena, " the spoiled 
child of victory," the most capable opponent 
Wellington encountered in the Peninsula, was to 
invade Portugal. He was to command three army 
corps, those of Ney, Regnier, and Junot, 80,000 
men all told ; while King Joseph with a reserve of 
24,000 stood behind in Madrid. 

Massena was to move from Salamanca and 
operate by the line of the Douro. At this time 
Wellington's army was posted to watch the northern 
approaches into Portugal. He held his main 
strength along the Mondego, with Craufurd's light 
division across the Coa, in near touch with the 
French outposts under Ney. Hill was in the valley 
of the Tagus, opposite Regnier; and, farther to 
the south, Beresford and his Portuguese covered 
the fertile district of the Alemtejo. Wellington 
had already *' matured his plan " ; it was designed 
on lines that would have surprised Lord Holland, 
and was far greater than any but a military genius 
could have conceived. Its cardinal features were 
to give ground slowly before Massena, while the 
Portuguese peasantry, as he retreated, laid their 


lands waste and denied the enemy subsistence. 
At a given point Wellington would disappear be- 
hind the hills, passing within the impregnable 
barrier of Torres Vedras, the great lines of earth- 
works created by his own foresight as a secure 
citadel and last stronghold to stay the advancing 
tide of invasion. 

The movements of both armies were slow and 
circumspect. Massena advanced in June, and Ney 
invested Ciudad Rodrigo ; and Craufurd maintain- 
ing himself too long upon the Coa with the rear- 
guard, was nearly compromised. Wellington let 
Ciudad Rodrigo surrender. He could not risk 
failure in the attempt to succour it ; defeat would 
have brought on another Corunna, and he fell 
back behind the Mondego River, where, skilfully 
drawing all his strength towards him, he prepared 
to give battle. He has been blamed for fighting 
at Busaco. Napier condemns the battle, which 
**in a military point of view should not have been 
fought. It was extraneous to his (Wellington's) 
original plan, and forced upon him by events ; it 
was in fine a political battle, and he afterwards 
called it a mistake. ... His mixed and inexperi- 
enced army was not easily handled. War is full of 
mischances, and the loss of a single brigade might 
have caused the English Government to abandon 


the contest altogether." At the time Wellington 
did not admit his error. " The croakers about 
useless battles will attack me again about that of 
Busaco," Wellington wrote a week after the battle, 
*' notwithstanding that our loss was really trifling ; 
but I should have been inexcusable if, knowing what 
I did, I had not endeavoured to stop the enemy 
there. ... It has removed an impression which 
began to be very general, that we intended to fight 
no more, but retire to our ships ; it has given the 
Portuguese a taste for an amusement to which 
they were not before accustomed, and which they 
would not have acquired if I had not put them 
in a very strong position." 

Massena came on leisurely, feeling sorely the 
already scant supplies of food and forage, while 
the Portuguese irregulars closed in on his rear, 
cutting him from his base, and greatly harassing 
his communications. His direction was Coimbra 
and the roads leading upon Lisbon. On the 25 th 
September Ney with the advanced guard came 
up on the Sierra de Busaco, which was the posi- 
tion Wellington had selected as best suited for 
a defensive action. Hill, hurrying up from the 
Tagus, had rejoined him, and he had thus gathered 
together all his strength. But when impetuous 
Ney dashed up, the long precipitous hill of Busaco 



was not yet fully occupied, and if the French had 
attacked instantly, the issue might have been 
different. Massena would not consent till he was 
himself at the front, and the golden opportunity 
was lost. On the 26th Wellington carefully lined 
the position with his troops, and the battle was 
fought on the 27th. Ney (no longer sanguine of 
success) commanded the left, Regnier the right ; 
Junot was in reserve. Regnier broke in manfully 
between the divisions of Picton and Leith, and 
was only checked by the prompt intervention of 
Wellington, who brought two guns to bear upon 
the French flank, and sent on two fresh regiments 
to charge. Regnier fought strenuously, but could 
not withstand their furious onslaught ; he had no 
reserves, and presently fell back, beaten. Ney was 
also foiled on the left. 

Massena now learnt that he might turn the 
position he could not force. Utilising a little-known 
mountain path to his own right, he continued 
his advance, and Wellington abandoned Busaco. 
Massena was very confident of success. Many of 
his officers believed that the English were in full 
retreat, making in hot haste for their ships; that 
re-embarkation was inevitable. There is no more 
dramatic surprise in the whole annals of war than 
the check which Massena now received. For under 


his very eyes the English columns glided through 
the passes of the frowning hills, entering a great 
natural fortress rendered impregnable by the highest 
engineering skill, and, so to speak, shut the gate be- 
hind them. The celebrated lines of Torres Vedras, 
says Napier, "were great in conception and execu- 
tion, more in keeping with ancient than modern 
military labours." 

We have no very exact knowledge when the 
idea struck Wellington, but it was probably of 
gradual growth, arising first in his general dis- 
positions for the defence of Portugal, and taking 
definite shape as he considered each point in turn. 
All this is to be seen in his elaborate and masterly 
memorandum to Colonel Fletcher, his chief engineer 
officer, dated October 20, 1809. He there considers 
the principal aims and objects of the enemy, and 
discusses the best measures for encountering them. 
The French, seeking to obtain Lisbon, would 
naturally advance by the right or left, or both ; by 
either the north or south bank of the Tagus, or by 
both banks. The river itself would be the best 
barrier against the latter, and to meet the former he 
thought it possible to organise a system of strong 
defensive works in the mountainous country about 
Torres Vedras, which (having made a detailed re- 
connaissance and visited every part of the ground) 


he saw, with the unerring instinct of a great soldier, 
was admirably adapted to the purpose. Having 
arrived at this conclusion, he proceeds to describe 
minutely how and where the fortifications should be 
constructed. The technical knowledge herein dis- 
played is remarkable ; the extraordinary eye for 
country, the exact application of means for working 
parties, the numbers for which the works should be 
designed, the armament to cover and command the 
approaches — all these are detailed with the pro- 
found skill of a practical engineer. 

Second only to the sagacity that created them 
was the self-control that kept this marvellous plan 
a profound secret to the last. That works were 
being thrown* up could not of course be concealed ; 
there were thousands and thousands of Portuguese 
labourers employed upon them under a crowd of sub- 
ordinate officers, yet no whisper of their transcendent 
importance, no suspicion of the momentous part they 
were to play, got abroad. Wellington visited them 
often ; ^ he watched over their construction with a 
jealous, vigilant eye, yet no one fathomed his inten- 
tions. Neither in his own army, among his most 
trusted staff-officers, nor in the country at large, 

^ February i, 1810, he met Fletcher on the ground to deal with various 
difficulties. The day before he had sent home an urgent request for more 
engineer officers. 


was there the slightest idea that twelve months 
beforehand he was slowly preparing a gigantic 
obstacle to the victorious advance of the French. 
How extreme was Massena's surprise, how bitter his 
disappointment, may be gathered from his indignant 
reproof to the Portuguese officers in his camp. 
They had assured him that the country lay open 
between the Mondego and the capital ; that there 
was no naturally strong position ; that if one had 
been created artificially, he should have found it 
out himself through his spies. ** Yes, yes," retorted 
Massena, ** Wellington built the works, but he did 
not make the mountains," 

The security afforded by these tremendous lines 
was not immediately appreciated by those they 
sheltered. The defensive system was in a triple 
line ; had the first been stormed there was the 
second and still the third ; they were all armed with 
heavy guns manned by many troops, reinforced by 
marines and bluejackets from the fleet. With his 
Spanish and Portuguese allies Wellington's garrison 
now reached the respectable total of 130,000 men. 
Yet few, if any, believed in Wellington's plan. His 
camp was full of traitors who pandered to the 
Ignoble hatred of his detractors at home. Through 
the long winter, with unshaken fortitude. Welling- 
ton stood steadfastly on the defensive, deaf to the 




unstinting abuse of those who called him incap- 
able, timorous, nothing better than a coward. The 
English press at home was filled with the con- 
temptuous complaints of his own officers. He 
chafed bitterly at the hostile correspondence main- 
tained by these ignorant critics, but he was not to 
be shaken in his purpose. One of the worst was 
a man at his right hand, Charles Stewart, his 
adjutant-general, brother to Lord Castlereagh, his 
patron and friend. Wellington made short work 
of Stewart, and when he had plainly convicted 
him of underhand communication, he gave him to 
understand that unless he desisted he should be 
sent straight home. 

The English general at this time had not only 
to complain of unfriendly criticism, but he had to 
deal with the dangerous and unguarded utterances 
of many officers who in their letters home gave 
much information to the enemy. ** All this would 
not much signify," he declares, **if our staff 
and other officers would mind their business, in- 
stead of writing news and keeping coffee-houses. 
But as soon as an accident happens, every man 
who can write, and who has a friend who can read, 
sits down to write his account of what he does 
not know, and his comments on what he does not 
understand ; and these are diligently circulated and 


exaggerated by the idle and malicious, of whom 
there are plenty in all armies." The evil resisted 
treatment, the most scathing general^ orders. "It 
is a fact, come to the knowledge of the com- 
mander of the forces, that the plans of the enemy 
have been founded on information extracted from 
the English newspapers, which information must 
have been obtained through private letters from 
officers of the army." Again he gives his general 
opinion that '* We are the most indefatigable writers 
of letters and of news that exist in the world, and 
the fashion and spirit of the times gives encourage- 
ment to lies." 

However, as the year 18 10 drew to its close, 


through the succeeding winter, and well into the 
spring, the profound wisdom of Wellington's de- 
fensive system was brought home convincingly to 
the most sceptical. The allied army, safe behind 
the entrenchments, lived in comfort, while Massena 
starved outside. For once the British commissariat 
worked well : supplies were plentiful ; the army was 
in close touch with England over sea. While 
this long period of leisure was fully occupied in 
developing military efficiency, in constant drills, 
marches, and manoeuvres, the sports and games so 
dear to Englishmen were constantly pursued ; new 
arrivals who now landed, fearing to find no army, 


were astonished to be welcomed by friends in good 
case, and who, for all their discontented grumblings, 
began to seejthat Wellington was right. 

Meanwhile Massena held his ground with ex- 
traordinary tenacity, undismayed by the horrible 
sufferings of his troops, in an enemy's country 
wasted and depopulated by famine, fire, and the 
sword. By the ist of March he had lost a third 
of his numbers ; it was indeed a marvel that his 
army still existed. It was said that the French 
had subsisted all those months in a country that 
would not have fed a British brigade. Years after- 
wards, when Massena met Wellington in Paris, he 
told him how much he had suffered in this terrible 
time. '* Ah! Monsieur le Mardchal," he said, *'que 
vous m'avez fait passer des mauvais moments I " 
and he assured his great antagonist that he had 
not left him one black hair on his whole body. 

Massena's retreat before Wellington is generally 
counted one of his finest operations, conducted as it 
was through an inhospitable country, with an alert 
and enterprising foe at his heels — for Wellington 
was soon able to prove that he could strike as well 
as stand upon his guard. Massena, " the cunning 
old fox," as Wellington called him, fell back fight- 
ing, and having more than once changed the direc- 
tion of his retreat, finally recrossed the frontier 


into Spain just three weeks later, having lost from 
first to last 30,000 men. 

Warfare more or less desultory followed. Two 
subsidiary battles were fought in the south, Barrosa 
and Albuera.^ Wellington laid siege to Badajoz, 
but it was relieved by Soult, to be again be- 
sieged without success by Beresford the same year. 
Meanwhile Massena made a last essay to restore 
his fortunes, and being bent upon relieving Almeida, 
fought and lost the battle of Fuentes d'Onoro. 
This closed Massena s career; he was recalled to 
Paris, and never fought again for the master who 
was always intolerant of non-success. Yet the 
last battle (Fuentes d'Onoro) was by no means a 
defeat. It was so close a thing that Wellington 
himself believed' the English would have been 
beaten if Napoleon, not Massena, had commanded 
the French. *' We had nearly three to one against 
us engaged — about four to one of cavalry; and, 
moreover, our cavalry had not a gallop in them, 
while some of the enemy's were fresh and in excel- 
lent order." In telling the story at his own table, 
a couple of years later, he admitted that he had 
made one great mistake in this battle — he had 
over-extended his right ; and said that had the 
French taken advantage of it, the consequences 

* See under head of Graham and Beresford. 


might have been serious ; ** but they permitted him 
to recover himself and to change front before their 

The final expulsion of the French from Portugal 
greatly improved Wellington's position at home. 
The Government saw now, with his eyes, that the 
Peninsula was the true arena of contest, and they 
were no more to be led away into vain adventure 
on other theatres of war. The lesson of Walcheren 
had been a bitter and disastrous experience ; a 
capable commander was not to be starved for means 
that they should be wasted elsewhere. Wellington 
was accordingly promised reinforcements; he was 
permitted to accept the supreme command of the 
Spanish armies, and otherwise encouraged. Still 
his difficulties at the seat of war were not greatly 
diminished ; he was kept very short of cash, the 
Portuguese at his elbow always gave endless 
trouble, and Marmont, who had replaced Massena, 
did not mean to remain idle. The main object of 
the Frehch was to raise the siege of Badajoz, which 
Wellington had resumed. Soult, co-operating from 
Andalucia, attacked Beresford before he could be 
reinforced, and the magnificent battle of Albuera 
was fought, the bloodiest and most desperate ever 
won by our unconquerable troops. Marmont and 

* Larpent, 65. 


Soult now combined, and Wellington, leaving Bada- 
joz, faced them undaunted with inferior forces, which 
yet imposed sufficiently on a gallant enemy too 
frequently worsted of late to enter willingly upon a 
fresh encounter. 

No active operations of a serious kind marked 
the last half of this year. Wellington and Marmont 
watched each other closely. The English com- 
mander, ever keen to secure one or both of the great 
fortresses that must form his base for any offensive 
campaign, laid siege to Ciudad Rodrigo. Marmont, 
who was numerically stronger at the decisive points, 
frustrated every endeavour, succoured the place when 
in its direst extremity, fought many serious com- 
bats that might easily have expanded into great 
battles. In the fall of the year both the opposing 
armies went into winter quarters, but Marmont 
first renewed the garrison of Ciudad Rodrigo, and 
Wellington continued to observe it. 



New plans — Fall of Ciudad Rodrigo and of Badajoz — Salamanca — 
Burgos besieged, and retreat therefrom — Results of campaign of 1812. 

WITH i8t2 the war entered upon a new 
stage — the last, as it may be called, of 
Wellington s probation. It was a season 
of great triumphs, of strongholds captured and 
victories won ; if failure closed the year, it was 
absolved by a masterly retreat, that most difficult of 
all operations, and now at last clamour was silenced 
and his reputation securely established. 

Yet 181 2 dawned with no great promise. 
Wellington's prolonged inactivity was again causing 
the keenest dissatisfaction in the public mind at 
home. It was essential to perform some feat of 
arms, to win some advantage soon, and he quietly 
cast about him calculating the comparative cost of 
each. Among the various enterprises that offered, 
one by its very audacity seemed the most hopeless 
and impossible, and that was the capture of Ciudad 

Rodrigo by a coup de main. His army seemed 



quite unequal to it. The health of the troops was 
indifferent, great numbers were in hospital ; never 
before had supplies been so scarce; the men, in 
their ragged uniforms, with pay months in arrears, 
were continually on half rations, for days without 
bread ; all animals, artillery and cavalry horses, the 
mules of the transport trains, were half starved. 

These undoubted facts were fully known to 
Marmont, and lulled him into false security ; he 
could not believe the English general, beset with 
such innumerable troubles, would dare assume the 
offensive. Wellington, on the other hand, correctly 
judging Marmont's mind, was the more encouraged 
to act. He resolved to fall upon Ciudad Rodrigo, 
hoping to carry it by a coup de main before the 
enemy, widely disseminated in search of subsistence, 
could gather together to raise the siege. He laid 
his plans with consummate secrecy and astuteness. 
A battering train was collected at Almeida with the 
excuse of re-arming that fortress ; large parties ol 
infantry were trained in the business of military 
engineering. A strong trestle-bridge was pre- 
pared for the passage of the river Agueda, upon 
which the fortress stands. When all was ready, 
at the moment when least expected, in the depth of 
winter, the most unlikely and unsuitable season, he 
swooped down on the fortress. 


The siege and capture of Ciudad Rodrigo, an 
affair completed between the 8th and the 19th of 
January, was a magnificent achievement, one of the 
most brilliant exploits performed by Wellington's 
army. It is "the only well-authenticated example 
of a breach, retrenched and well supplied with men, 
being carried by an effort of cool but determined 
courage against a brave and skilful enemy."* The 
assault was delivered prematurely. Time was of 
such vital importance, Marmont was so near, that 
the place must be taken before bombardment had 
opened a sufficient breach. What Wellington ex- 
pected even at a terrible sacrifice of life, his soldiers 
unhesitatingly accomplished. 

Badajoz, the second of the Spanish frontier gates, 
was next attempted, and Wellington sat down before 
it upon the 9th of March. On the i6th the siege 
was begun by Picton with three divisions, 15,000 
men, while Hill with 30,000 more covered the 
operation against Soult. Philippon, one of the 
most chivalrous and dauntless of Frenchmen, held 
the place with a garrison of only 5000 ; but their 
gallantry, backed by his engineering skill, made up 
for paucity of numbers. Here again time was the 
essence of the situation. Strict rules of procedure 
must be set aside, whatever the cost. The plan 

* Jones, " Sieges in Spain." 


adopted was never approved by those who formed 
and carried it out ; but it was a matter of neces- 
sity, ** because no means were at hand to execute 
a better." 

Eighteen hundred men worked in the trenches 
knee deep in mud. On the 25th March the 
bombardment opened; two great outworks were 
silenced, and so seriously damaged that they were 
captured by assault that same night. Next day 
new parallels were traced, more batteries prepared ; 
but now Marmont was reported as threatening 
Ciudad Rodrigo, and Soult was rapidly approach- 
ing from Seville. The latter had reached Llerena 
on the 5th, and next day Wellington made his 
assault. It was neck or nothing ; he could not 
afford to wait ; if Badajoz was not taken at once, 
he must retire. Four principal columns went up 
to the attack ; that at the breaches failed ; prodi- 
gies of valour were unavailing against the stubborn 
resistance. Had not Picton carried the castle 
by escalade, and the 5th Division seized the St. 
Vincent bastion, the day must have gone against 
us. But these successes pierced Philippon s de- 
fence, and ere long he surrendered with his 
garrison. Although dearly bought, the posses- 
sion of these two fortresses was a splendid prize, 
for Ciudad Rodrigo gave Wellington a strategical 


advantage, the benefits of which he was not slow to 

He was now able to choose whether he would 
move to the southward against Soult, attack 
Marmont, who was based on Salamanca, or operate 
against Joseph in Madrid. He decided on the 
second, hoping that success against. Marmont would 
free the capital. The campaign of Salamanca 
which followed is admirably calculated to show 
Wellington at his best and worst. His worst, 
because he was undoubtedly outmanoeuvred by 
Marmont, who, although not a really great com- 
mander, showed himself the English generals 
tactical superior. His best, because he owed his 
ultimate success to unerring promptitude in dealing 
with a flagrant tactical error. When his adversary 
rashly extended himself, thinking to gain an easy 
victory over an army in full retreat, Wellington 
delivered the great counter-stroke, with the happy 
result of "beating forty thousand men in forty 
minutes." Yet even here the batde was long in 
doubt, and was gained by the English general 
because he had the strongest reserves. It should 
have been more decisive, however, and the whole 
of the beaten army must have surrendered had not 
a careless and disobedient Spanish leader neglected 
to hold an important post upon the river Tormes. 


Salamanca, according to the historian, may be con- 
sidered Wellingtons most skilful battle: **Assaye 
was more wonderful, Waterloo more glorious, but 
at Salamanca he dominated the field with the 
mastery of a practised hand." 

This success opened the way to the capital, and, 
amid the rejoicings of the inhabitants, Wellington 
marched forward. The French were disorganised, 
and everywhere in full retreat. Clausel, now com- 
manding Marmont's army, had drawn back behind 
Burgos ; Joseph had evacuated Madrid, and was 
making for the east coast to combine with Suchet ; 
Soult's communications were imperilled, and he was 
obliged to abandon Andalucia, 

Campaign of Burgos. 

12th Aug. Wellington entered Madrid, where 
he captured a whole arsenal of stores. In this the 
heart and centre of Spain, he could plan his next 
movements and decide whether to move against 
Clausel, Suchet, or Soult. The French had rallied, 
and were making fresh head. He himself was in 
greater diflficulties, suffering more than ever from the 
neglect of the Home Government and the supine- 
ness of his Spanish allies. **We are absolutely 
bankrupt,*' he writes. '*The troops are now five 


months in arrears, instead of being five months in 
advance. The staff have not been paid since 
February, the muleteers not since June 1811 ; and 
we are in debt in all parts of the country. I 
am obliged to take the money sent to me by my 
brother for the Spaniards, to give my own troops 
a fortnight's pay, who are really suffering for want 
of money." He was in sore need of everything, 
remounts for cavalry and artillery, and especially 
commissariat supplies. It was no doubt with the 
wish to establish a new base on the Biscayan 
coast,^ and a shorter line of operations, that he now 
resolved to attack Burgos. With that strong place 
in his possession he could abandon Portugal, and 
securing thus a nearer communication with home, 
he would also eat like a gangrene into the flank of 
the French line of retreat. 

igth Sept. The siege of Burgos was begun 
with insufficient means — ^a very meagre battering 
train, three 18 and five 24 pounders — and the 
work in the trenches was entrusted largely to 
the Portuguese. A first assault failed, and was 
followed with despondency ; a second assault was 
only partially successful ; three others failed to give 
Wellington possession of the place. The weather 
became horribly inclement, and added greatly to the 

* Accomplished the following year. 


discomfort and hopelessness of the besiegers, whose 
numbers diminished daily by sickness. Wellington 
was short of all kinds of siege material, he could 
bring up no reinforcements, and now he learnt that 
Soult had combined with Joseph ; the French had 
concentrated from the east and south, while those 
in his front were prepared to resume the offensive. 
Retreat became inevitable. 

2isi Oct, Wellington broke up from his lines 
before Burgos, choosing the most direct route, 
which led his columns right under the guns of the 
castle. He moved with the utmost secrecy, march- 
ing in silence, his gun wheels muffled in straw, and 
managed so well that only his rear-guard was fired 

2 7^rd Oct. He had retired to the Pisuerga; and 

24M Oct. To the Carrion. 

29M Oct. He was behind the Douro. The 
French crossed lower down, at Tordesillas, and 
made Wellington's position untenable ; but he 
moved to his left and forbade their passage in 
any force. 

Meanwhile Hill had stood fast at Madrid, still 
showing a bold front against Soult, Joseph, and 
Suchet, who were converging upon him ; but 

30M Oct. He commenced to withdraw through 
the passes of the Guadarrama to rejoin Wellington, 


the French following on his footsteps, but not in 
great strength. 

Si A Nov. He reached the Tormes, and was 
in touch with Wellington at Salamanca, The 
combined British forces now numbered 68,000. 
The French also had concentrated, Soult and his 
comrade marshals having stretched a hand north- 
ward and joining with Wellington's pursuers ; their 
united forces were 90,000 strong. 

\\th Nov. Soult moved forward, and would 
have attacked Wellington had he held his ground, 
but the English general prudently withdrew in the 
face of superior numbers. His retreat was accom- 
plished by an audacious march, under cover of 
fog and rain, round the enemy's left, by which he 
secured the roads on Ciudad Rodrigo. 

i()th Nov. The whole army was behind the 
Agueda, and under cover of the Portuguese 

Thus the brilliant successes of the early part 
of the year ended in this masterly but disastrous 
retreat. It was an operation to try hard the forti- 
tude and self-reliance of the greatest commander, 
and never was Wellington's coolness, self-possession, 
and adroitness more admirably displayed. The 
army was only saved by his firmness from degene- 
rating into a rabble rout. The bonds of discipline 


had been sadly relaxed in retreat ; everything con- 
tributed to demoralise the troops — short rations, 
the insufficiency of transport, persistently inclement 
weather. Men broke out into licence and rapine ; 
drunkenness, outrage, insubordination were terribly 
rife, and could not be checked even by the strong 
hand. Wellington in bitter language blamed his 
officers ; they retorted, and openly blamed their 
superiors. Much hardship and inconvenience were 
entailed by the mistakes of the overworked staff: 
there was no nice calculation of movements ; 
divisions and regiments moved too soon or too 
late, were halted for hours exposed to furious 
rains ; they struggled on ankle-deep in mud, often 
barefoot, always soaked to the skin ; they were left 
to bivouac in swampy ground starved with hunger, 
or were roused at midnight to receive rations they 
could not cook. It was a repetition, intensified, of 
the retreat upon Corunna, and the total loss was 
little less than 9000 men with much baggage. 

Not strangely, this retreat, with all its sufferings 
and failures, tried Wellington's blossoming repu- 
tation hard. There was a fresh outburst of dis- 
content in England ; Ciudad Rodrigo, Badajoz, and 
Salamanca were already forgotten. The cry that 
Wellington was incompetent was again raised, but 
he found friends now with the Opposition, which 


felt it convenient to attack the Government for 
not supplying him with adequate means. Happily 
the right triumphed. The blame fell upon those 
who merited it. Wellington was further advanced 
in rank, and during the winter he received 
reinforcements and supplies to enable him to 
recommence operations under better auspices in 
the spring. He himself spoke modestly of his 
achievements in 1812. ** Although we have not 
been able to hold the two Castilles," he wrote, " our 
campaign has not been a bad one, and we are in a 
position to make a good one next year." Napier 
goes further, and declares that ** this campaign, 
including the sieges of Rodrigo, Badajoz, the 
forts of Salamanca, and of Burgos, the assault of 
Almaraz and the fight of Salamanca, will probably 
be considered his finest illustration of the art of 




Wellington's burthen — His crosses and difficulties — His breadth of 
grasp — His self-confidence, sense of duty, untiring energy — Exacts 
implicit obedience from all — Full of resource — Has two sets of staff- 
officers— His personal vanity — His physical strength and powers of 

IT will be well to pause here for a moment to 
get some idea of Wellington as a man, of his 
personal attributes, to consider the many fine 
qualities in his complex character. He was now 
nearing the climax of his reputation as a great 
commander ; he had conquered the esteem of his 
enemies, was respected and feared by the chivalrous 
foe in front of him, and was rising superior to scur- 
rilous calumny and backbiting at home. He had 
earned the most unbounded confidence, and was 
assured of the most strenuous support from the men 
he had so often led to victory. There is no more 
striking picture in our national records than that of 
Wellington as he bore with uncomplaining fortitude 
the immense burthen laid upon him in the Penin- 
sular war. He was then, in truth, that " sight for 
the gods," a great man struggling with adversity. 



The difficulties, constant and continually varied, of 
his daily life can hardly be exaggerated. Any who, 
through forgetfulness or incomplete knowledge, 
might be disposed in these latter days to belittle 
his achievements, should be reminded of what he 
did, and how he did it. He carried everything on 
his own shoulders. We have seen something of 
his crosses, in regard to the neglect of the Home 
Government, the excesses of his troops, the faith- 
lessness and uselessness of his allies. Worse than 
all was the incompetence of so many of his sub- 
ordinates ; he complained bitterly at times of the 
ignorance and inefficiency of his lieutenants, and 
repeatedly reported the facts home, deploring the 
trouble he had in making them understand the 
objects he had in view, even in obeying the orders 
he gave. ** It is to be hoped," he writes to Lord 
Liverpool, **that general and other officers will at 
last acquire the experience that will teach them 
that success can only be attained by attention to 
the most minute details, by tracing every part of 
every operation to its conclusion point by point, 
and ascertaining that the whole is understood by 
those who mean to execute it." How sometimes 
his brigadiers disappointed him is told in the story of 
the one who, having committed a flagrant mistake, 
made the excuse that his eyesight was defective. 


The Duke (then Lord Wellington) asked his age. 
** Forty -four," was the reply. **Oh," said his chief 
contemptuously, who was at that time forty-one, 
*• you will be a great soldier when you are as old as 
I am." It must be remembered that in those days 
no really good and practical school to form the 
superior officers had existed, India alone excepted. 
No English army had made a really serious war on 
large lines upon the Continent of Europe since the 
days of Marlborough. But it was out of these un- 
promising materials that some of the best modern 
English generals, after Wellington, were made. 
Such men as Beresford, Hill, Graham, Picton, Cole, 
Colville, Clinton, Byng, Beckwith, Colborne, and 
many more, came well through the ordeal of tested 
efficiency in the field. 

A leader often so badly served by many of his 
lieutenants was not likely to seek their advice, nor 
be greatly guided by their opinion. But it was 
peculiarly characteristic of Wellington that he never 
appealed to others, never summoned councils of war 
to give him their confidence and support. He 
elicited the fullest information, and for this pur- 
pose regularly gathered together staff and heads 
of departments, listening patiently to all. When 
he had heard, weighed, assimilated everything, 
he made up his own mind, acting according to 


his lights, on his own judgment alone. Then, he 
planned his instructions himself, often most minutely, 
issued his own orders, and expected them to be im- 
plicitly obeyed. But his decision was final, and he 
imposed his will authoritatively on the rest. It was 
this that gave him such a commanding influence 
on all about him ; he was in truth the master, the 
real supreme chief, to whom all looked, on whom 
all depended. This concentration of will and 
authority in one single individual is no doubt a 
necessity to secure success in war ; nevertheless, 
when carried to its furthest limits, it undoubtedly 
tends to dwarf and discourage, and while checking 
independence in thought and action, will frequently 
develop mediocrity. 

Nothing was too intricate, too small for his 
personal attention. It has been said of his de- 
spatches that they exhibit in a marked degree his 
extraordinary breadth of grasp. ** You might have 
fancied the writer of one letter to have been bred 
in a merchant's counting-house, of another that 
he was a commissaire de guerre, or a profound 
diplomatist, or a financier, or a jurist." The day 
before the commencement of most important field 
operations, with a mass of most intricate military 
details on his hands, he wrote two sheets of fools- 
cap, in his own hand, to Sir James M*Grigor, on 


a disputed question of medical administration, ex- 
plaining at length his reasons for differing with 
his principal medical officer. Then Wellington 
invariably saw personally to the execution of his 
own designs and plans. He kept all the lines 
in his own hands ; he liked to look into every- 
thing, to superintend the execution of everything 
for himself. " I am obliged to be everywhere ; if 
absent from any operation, something goes wrong." 
This feeling was no doubt partly due to his dis- 
trust of so many of his agents ; it Wcis, of course, 
encouraged by his own almost unbounded self- 
confidence ; still, it had its chief seat in the strong 
sense of duty that governed all his public actions. 
From first to last he was the ** mimmuck wallah," 
as he called himself — the man who had ** eaten the 
king's salt," and who must give his utmost loyal 
endeavour to any task entrusted to him. 

To say that Wellington never trusted any of 
his staff or those about him is not exactly correct. 
When he found a good man he was glad enough 
to utilise him to the full. Such were, however, the 
bright exceptions, and for the most part not those 
appointed from home, but those whom he dis- 
covered and brought forward himself, generally 
from the junior ranks. For, in his own words, he 
believed " the young ones will always beat the old 


ones," not a new or singular opinion; but he usually 
qualified the dictum by adding that this was more 
particularly the case when the old were ** without 
experience." But for his own keen discrimination 
in choosing out and advancing the most competent 
men he could find, his difficulties would have been 
enormously increased. 

It was an ever-rankling grievance with him that 
the Horse Guards authorities made so many bad 
appointments to his staff. ^ Another sore point was 
his powerlessness to reward meritorious service. 
He could give the capable extended responsibili- 
ties, larger command, greater opportunity, but not 
promotion. It has been well said, in comparing 
the means at the disposal of the two great leaders 
of those days, Napoleon and Wellington, that the 
English general could not promote a corporal, while 
the French emperor could make a duke, and by 
a mere stroke of his pen. At a time only imme- 
diately antecedent to the Peninsular war, English 
commanders in the field had possessed great 
patronage ; most of the generals of the day had 
been rapidly advanced by such chiefs as Howe, 
Clinton, Cornwallis, Burgoyne, Dorchester ; but 
this power of giving promotion on active ser- 
vice had lately been abolished, and, as a natural 

^ See post, p. 163 — Waterloo. 


consequence, Wellington was unable to incite offi- 
cers to their best efforts. " We who command the 
armies of the country, and are expected to make 
exertions greater than those made by the French, 
. . . have not the power of rewarding or promising 
a reward for a single officer of the army." we find 
it stated in a letter to Lord Castlereagh. ** It 
may be supposed that I wish for this patronage 
to gratify my own favourites ; but I declare most 
solemnly that if I had it to-morrow, there is not a 
soul in the army whom I would wish to promote 
excepting for services performed. I would not give 
one pin to have the disposal of every commission in 
the army." But he insists upon the necessity for 
a change in the system : ** It is not known to the 
army and to strangers, and I am almost ashamed 
of acknowledging, the small degree (I ought to say 
nullity) of power of reward which belongs to my 
situation ; and it is really extraordinary that I have 
got on so well hitherto without it But the day must 
come when this system must be altered," It has 
not yet arrived, although this prediction is nearly a 
century old ; ^ and although a successful commander 

^ An instance of this, not a singular one, was that of Ensign Dyas, of the 
15th Regiment, who twice volunteered to lead storming parties on the outwork 
of San Cristoval at the first si^e of Badajoz in i8ii. His name was men- 
tioned in despatches, and Lord Wellington recommended him for promotion ; 
yet he never obtained it till after the return of the army from the Peninsula 


in the field can recommend a good officer for pro- 
motion, he can do no more. 

No doubt Wellington had his own good 
reasons for distrusting his staff, but he carried it 
to a questionable extreme. He relied so entirely 
upon himself, that he would permit no one to make 
suggestions, still less to take action, even in the 
smallest matters, without his authority. To ques- 
tion his orders, to hesitate to obey them, to 
traverse or impede them, was with him the great 
and unpardonable sin. He never forgave insub- 
ordination, or the faintest indication of it. This 
explains his implacable resentment against Norman 
Ramsay, the most gallant of horse-artillerymen,^ 
whose guilt in this respect was never clearly 
proved, but whom Wellington unsparingly con- 
demned. It was this that went near causing a 
breach between him and his principal medical 
officer. Sir James M'Grigor, with whom, recog- 
nising his true worth, he had hitherto been on 
the best of terms. The state of the sick and 
wounded after Salamanca was so deplorable that 
M'Grigor had taken upon himself to order up 

in 1 814, and then only by an accidental meeting with an influential person, 
the late Sir Frederick Ponsonby, who once more brought his services before 
the Horse Guards. Besides neglect or forgetfulness, there existed much 
jealousy of recommendations which interfered with home patronage. 
^ See post, p. 227. 


commissariat officers and purveyors, and to take 
other measures for their relief. Wellington was 
furious. *' I should like to know who is to com- 
mand the army? I or you.** I establish one route, 
one line of communication for the army ; you estab- 
lish another, and order the commissariat and sup- 
plies by that line. As long as you live, sir, never 
do so again ; never do anything without my orders." 
M'Grigor pleaded that there was no time to 
consult him to save life. Wellington repeated per- 
emptorily that nothing must be done without his 
orders. Even later on, in the retreat from Madrid, 
when the excellence of M*Grigors arrangements 
greatly simplified Wellington s task, the autocratic 
chief would not yield on the point of duty. Welling- 
ton would only admit that it had all turned out very 
well ; *' but I recommend you, still, to have my 
orders for what you are to do." No wonder this 
imperious spirit made him a terror to his staff. 
Whether " his lordship " was or was not in a good 
temper was anxiously debated at each morning's 
levee. There were times indeed when, things 
having gone wrong, he gave way to his ill-humour 
and snubbed them all unmercifully. At others a 
child, so to speak, might play with him. There 
were ways of doing business that pleased him, 
others that offended him mightily. He could not 


tolerate diffuseness or hesitation in speech ; a man 
must go straight to the point with him, short and 
sharp, or expect to hear about it. "He could not 
bear a roundabout story. Conciseness, alacrity, and 
energy were the elements in which he lived. He 
liked all that was to be done or said brought to a 
point closely and quickly." ^ 

He judged people very much by their way in 
putting things before him, expecting prompt replies 
to his questions, off-hand, without notes.* Sir James 
M*Grigor tells us that he found Wellington "dis- 
liked my coming to him with a written paper ; he 
was fidgety and evidently displeased when I re- 
ferred to my notes." Another bHe noir was the 
making of difficulties : " Never let me hear of them 
about anything." He wished to banish such words 
as "difficulty," "responsibility," from his vocabu- 
lary. He was so full of ingenuity and resource 
himself, that he expected others to be the same. 
He conquered everything by his ready adapta- 
bility of the circumstances as he found them to 
the ends he had in view. " No scaling-ladders 
for Ciudad Rodrigo? Saw up the waggons of the 
transport ; they have done their work." " Want 
planking? Use up the platforms of your siege 

^ Larpent. 
^ Cf, Kinglake and the Duke's approval of Aircy. 


batteries, and make fresh platforms when you 
get to the pinewoods of Bayonne." These were 
his brief solutions of stiff problems that puzzled 

For a long time he was especially dissatisfied 
with, possibly a little hard upon, the artillery and 
its senior officers. He thought them slow and 
inert, and told them so. *' I took care to let him 
feel that I thought him very stupid," was his re- 
mark upon one artillery commander who had come 
under his displeasure. ** And I have no doubt he 
said it in very plain terms," was the subsequent 
comment of Murray, the quartermaster - general, 
who had heard Wellington s remark. This same 
artillery officer was again in trouble when having 
an audience with the commander of the forces 
about some friend's case. Wellington became 
exasperated, and told the colonel that his friend 
might go to a certain warm place. "Very good, 
sir ; then I'll go to the quartermaster-general for 
a route," retorted the old chap ; and Wellington, 
who really loved a joke, laughed heartily. Few 
could tell a good story better, few enjoyed one 
more. Rogers, in his ** Recollections," records that 
the Duke had great gaiety of mind. *' He laughs 
at almost everything if it serves to divert him. . . . 
His laugh is easily excited, and it is very loud and 



long, like the whoop of a whooping-cough often 
repeated." No doubt Wellington had his weak 
moments — one in particular, when waiting for 
his horse to mount and go out with the hounds. 
Astute generals and staff-officers would come to 
him then, when he was in high good -humour, 
and get through their business, much to their own 
satisfaction. Others would range up alongside him 
in the run, and get him to decide things in a hasty 
way, **in a way I did not always intend," but which 
they were prompt to adopt if it suited them. At 
last Wellington would have no more of it, and, with 
one of the strong expressions he no doubt learnt 
in Flanders, he gave it out that he would never talk 
on business when in the hunting-field. 

Before leaving the subject of his Peninsular 
staff, it is well to record in this place a curious fact 
regarding it. He had always two distinct sets of 
staff-officers — one, so to speak, for use, the other 
for show, or, more exactly, for companionship in 
private life. With the first he was strictly their 
general commanding, with the second he was a 
more or less *'off duty" comrade and good friend. 
He chose his personal staff mostly from his own 
class, following that decided bias towards aristo- 
cratic connection to which I have already referred. 
His aides-de-camp were generally titled youngsters 


whom he called by their Christian names, who sat 
round his table and amused him with the gossip of 
society at home, and helped him in that hospitable 
entertainment for which the Duke was so justly 
famous in Spain. No one was more liberal in 
that respect, and he was no doubt proud of it. 
**You will get a better dinner with me," he said 
on one occasion when a guest he had invited 
refused, pleading a prior engagement with another 
subordinate general. 

Yet there was no ** swagger," as we should call 
it, no pretension about Wellington, even when 
generalissimo of a fine and victorious army. He 
did not care for the show and glitter, the pomp 
and circumstance of his rank; a single aide-de- 
camp only accompanied him in his rides or in the 
presence of the enemy — so much so, that he often 
ventured almost within their lines unsuspected, for 
the French could not suppose that so great a 
general would ride about with only one or two 
attendants. In quarters there was a marked sim- 
plicity in his entourage. Once, in France, a great 
local authority who wished to call on him found 
that he could enter his room without ceremony, and 
that he was seated there alone. ** Marshal Soult," 
said the Frenchman, "would have had, at least, 
a general officer in waiting in the ante - chamber. 


and a host of aides and orderly officers outside the 

With all his simplicity so far as his surround- 
ings went, Wellington was not without a certain 
amount of personal vanity. Although by no means 
a handsome man, he thought a good deal of his 
outward appearance, and was always extremely 
natty and particular about his dress. Larpent tells 
us of the chiefs fondness for well-fitting breeches 
and well-made hessians or hunting-boots. There 
was a strain of vanity, too, in his using a distinctive 
costume with the hounds, which he followed in the 
Peninsula on every possible opportunity (the army, 
it will be remembered, had a couple of packs — 
one Wellington s, one which became in after years 
the nucleus of the well-known Calpe Hunt at 
Gibraltar). The Duke (or Lord Wellington, or 
" the Peer," as he then was generally termed) was 
in the dress of the Hampshire Hunt, at that time 
pale blue with a black cape ; a very marked con- 
trast, no doubt, to the rest of the costumes in the 
field. Yet, beyond liking his clothes well made, so 
as to show his then youthful figure to best appear- 
ance, it cannot be said that he cared for gaudy 
uniforms, and he was best known in the field by 
the plain blue coat, and, sometimes, a white over- 
coat and a cocked hat without feathers. 


Wellington s passion for hunting was the natural 
craving of an active man for hard bodily exercise. 
No one could take more, whether for pleasure or 
business, or wanted it more. His office labours 
were incessant, but he threw them off easily, enjoyed 
himself thoroughly, and returned without a murmur 
to his desk. He could stand the heaviest strain, 
mental or physical. Larpent, who was his judge- 
advocate-general, describes him as always the most 
active of his whole party ; prided himself on it : 
**he stayed at business at Frenada until half-past 
three, then rode full seventeen miles to Ciudad 
Rodrigo for dinner, . . . was in high glee, danced, 
stayed supper, at half- past three in the morning 
went back by moonlight, arrived at six, and was 
ready again for business at twelve." He travelled 
from Lisbon to Frenada, nearly two hundred miles, 
in five days, with relays of horses — riding the last 
day fifty miles between breakfast and dinner. 



Wellington personally controls everything — His military reputation 
now established — His demeanour in the field — Busaco, Badajoz, 
Salamanca, Vittoria, Burgos — His forbearance to Craufurd and 

WELLINGTON'S hands were always full. 
Till Larpent joined him as judge-advocate, 
the general-in-chief had attended to all 
the court-martial work — framing charges, reading 
evidence, revising the proceedings. Yet in this 
department alone there was so much to do that 
Larpent was nearly fagged to death. As he writes 
in one of his letters : '* I really scarcely know where 
to turn, and my fingers are quite fatigued, as well as 
my brains, with the arrangements and difficulties as 
to witnesses," &c. Lord Wellington remarked on 
this : "If your friends knew what was going on 
here, they would think you had no sinecure. And 
how do you suppose I was plagued when I had to 
do it nearly all myself?" 

*' Lord Wellington," says Larpent, "reads and 
looks into everything. He hunts almost every 



other day, and then makes up for it by great dili- 
gence and instant decision on the intermediate days. 
He works until about 4 p.m., and then for an hour 
or two parades, with any one he wants to talk to, 
up and down the square of Frenada (amidst all the 
chattering Portuguese) in his grey coat." He knew 
each man's work, and could insist on its being 
properly done ; he controlled the medical depart- 
ment, now grown to consist of 700 doctors under 
Dr. M'Grigor; the quartermaster-general, Murray,^ 
** one of the best heads in the arrriy," took his orders 
direct from Wellington on all the intricacies of 
routes and movements, and the provision of equip- 
ment ; the adjutant-general, Stewart, was never safe 
with a chief whose eye checked every figure and 
instantly detected any error in the casting up of 
totals. Then there was the more secret and confi- 
dential business of obtaining intelligence. A whole 
army of agents and spies worked for him and with 
him, often direct, from the ubiquitous and inimitable 
Colquhoun Grant and the equally useful Colonel 
Waters, whose adventures would outdo the most 
ingenious romance, to the rank and file, the peasantry 
who came and went between the two camps and 
took news to both. Wellington had his spies of all 

1 (( 

' Apparently very clever and clear-headed. In my opinion he comes 
next to Wellington, as far as I have seen." — Larpent, 86. 


ranks in Spain, and a Spanish marquesa con- 
stantly sent him valuable information from Madrid, 
and yet hated her country's champions as cordially 
as she did its French oppressors. This lady, when 
asked which she preferred, French or English, 
declared that she wished she might see the latter 
hanged con las tripas (with the intestines) of the 
other. Another was Dr. Curtis, an Irish priest, head 
of the seminary at Salamanca, who was a staunch 
ally, and who nearly paid the penalty with his life 
when the French reoccupied the place. ^ 

Wellington s reputation as a military leader was 
now established beyond dispute. It is pictured 
vividly with almost photographic minuteness by 
contemporary writers, who do full justice to his 
soldierly qualities, his fortitude under adverse cir- 
cumstances, his coolness and self-possession, his 
unwearied patience when waiting on events, many 
of which he had slowly prepared, his prompt unerr- 
ing decision when the time for action had arrived. 
We may see him in every situation : harassed with 
doubts, tormented with difficulties, but ever sanguine, 
self-reliant, self-contained. At the passage of the 
Douro he away ts, calmly confident, the news of 

^ Dr. Curtis was subsequently titular archbishop of Dublin, and when 
the Duke was engaged upon the question of Catholic emancipation, was 
consulted by Wellington. 


Murray's movement higher up, then issues the brief 
order, ** Let the men cross " — a hazardous enterprise, 
the very audacity of which assured its success. At 
Talavera, with the strongest suspicion of Cuesta's 
treachery, the certain knowledge of the cowardice 
and incompetence of his Spanish allies, he meets 
the French attack quite undismayed. Wellington 
undoubtedly influenced the result, and may be said 
to have won the battle for himself; he was, as ever, 
at the decisive point ; it was by his definite order — 
that of a consummate master of tactics, prescient, and 
therefore fully prepared to strike in — that Donellan 
came up with the 48th and changed the fate of 
the day after the rash gallantry of the Guards had 
jeopardised it. At Busaco, again, in the crisis of 
the battle, when the French with astonishing valour 
had climbed the heights and were securely estab- 
lished in the heart of our position, it was Wellington 
who brought up artillery to tear their flank, while 
the fresh infantry he had at hand drove the enemy 
headlong down the heights. At Fuentes d'Onoro, 
when, yielding to the advice of Sir Brent Spencer, 
he tried to hold too much ground and was in 
imminent peril of defeat, he saved himself by the 
skill and promptitude of his tactical dispositions. 
An eye-witness^ has preserved an admirable 

* Maxwell, '* Peninsular Sketches," i. 305. 


picture of Wellington at the supreme moment when 
all seemed lost at the last assault at Badajoz. The 
narrator stood near him as with set face, stern, but 
haggard and grey with anxiety, he received the 
news, bad news, worse news. " My lord, I have 
come from the breaches," says a staff-officer, gallop- 
ing up. **The troops, after repeated efforts, have 
failed to enter them. Colonel M'Leod, of the 43rd, 
is killed. So many officers have fallen, that the 
men are without leaders and dispersed in the ditch. 
Unless your lordship can send large reinforcements 
at once, the attack must fail.*' By the light of a 
lantern Wellington read the report ; then, speaking 
with the utmost coolness and self-possession, said 
shortly, '* Let Major-General Hay's brigade advance." 
Another interval of hideous anxiety followed, and 
then the scene suddenly changes. 

" My lord," says one of his staff, ** I hear that 
General Picton has obtained possession of the 

" Who brings the news ? * 

The messenger approaches. 

'*Are you certain, sir?" asks the anxious 

*' I entered the castle with the troops, and have 
only just left it. General Picton is inside," is the 


** With how many men ? " 

** His whole division." 

** Return, sir, to General Picton, and desire him 
to retain his position at all hazards. And you" — 
to one of his own staff — ** follow and repeat the 
same order." 

The business had indeed been gallantly done, 
and there is no more splendid record of heroism 
than that escalade of Badajoz by Picton's division. 
Colonel Ridge, of the 5th, was the first to climb the 
ladder ; he was one of the *' Come on " class, and 
by his noble eagerness he paved the way to success. 
Not strangely, Wellington afterwards told Picton 
that the 3rd Division, in taking Badajoz, had saved 
his honour. 

Another striking picture of him is on the field of 
Salamanca : a presentment in several scenes. The 
first on the forenoon of that great day. He had 
spent the early morning in moody preoccupation, 
for he was in the presence of a general, his equal, 
if not his superior, in tactics. Marmont had both 
outmarched and outflanked him, and on the very 
morning of his victory Wellington feared that his 
retreat into Portugal was inevitable : he had already 
missed more than one favourable chance of smiting 
his enemy ; now the advantage lay with Marmont. 
Wellington's staff had entered a farmyard, where 


a late breakfast was laid out, and Wellington, 
whose anxieties were too great for appetite, had 
been prevailed upon to munch the drumstick of 
a fowl. Then came an aide-de-camp with the 
news of Marmont's mistake — the rash overreaching 
extension of his left, made in the hope of inter- 
cepting Wellington s retreat, with the fatal conse- 
quences of exposing his own flank. Wellington 
instantly realised the great opportunity that chance 
had brought him, and throwing away his uneaten 
breakfast, he galloped off to examine Marmont's 
dispositions more closely. 

The second scene exhibits Wellington on the 
hill slope calmly surveying the French columns 
rushing to their own destruction. It was then that 
he closed his telescope with supreme satisfaction 
and said to his Spanish attach^, *' Mon cher Alava, 
Marmont est perdu." Then, too, when he had 
given his orders for the counter-stroke, for the 
gathering up of his divisions to attack Marmont 
as they caught him en flagrant (Ulit, that he quietly 
lay down to take a short sleep. Much time must 
elapse before the orders just issued could be carried 
into effect ; the advancing French must cover yet 
a couple of miles before they were within striking 
distance. Here was a spare hour to be utilised 
by this man of iron nerves in restoring his jaded 

MX ,/7l',&^,v, 


mental and physical faculties. *' I shall have a 
little rest," he now said to his faithful Fitz Roy 
Somerset. ** Watch the French through your glass. 
When they reach yonder copse, near the gap in 
the hills, wake me," and, wrapping himself in his 
cloak, lay down behind a furze bush, and was soon 
sound asleep. At the appointed moment he was 
roused, refreshed and alert for the fight. Then it 
was that he rode up to the 3rd Division, which 
was to head the onslaught, and said to his brother- 
in-law, Pakenham, '* Do you see those fellows on 
the hill ? Throw your division into column, Ned ; 
at them, and drive them to the devil." And it was 
done so " handsomely," to use Wellington's favourite 
expression, that victory was assured. ** Forty thou- 
sand men were beaten in forty minutes." 

The third and last is from Napier's glowing 
pencil, and must be quoted as it stands — a splendid 
tribute to the leader he so devotedly served : ** I 
saw him late in the evening of that great day, 
when the advancing flashes of cannon and musketry, 
stretching far as the eye could command, showed 
in the darkness how well the field was won. He 
was alone ; the flush of victory was on his brow, 
and his eyes were eager and watchful, but his 
voice was calm, even gentle. More than the rival 
of Marlborough, since he had defeated greater 


warriors than Marlborough ever encountered, with 
a prescient pride he seemed only to accept this 
glory as an earnest of greater things."  

Look, again, at Wellington on the eve of the 
campaign that culminated at Vittoria. He is once 
more in Salamanca, and is attending high mass at 
the cathedral, where prayers were being offered up 
for the success of the allied arms. He stands, 
while the priest chants and the deep-toned organ 
plays impressive music, with his face towards the 
altar, attentive and absorbed, a simple figure plainly 
attired, a marked contrast to the gorgeous uniforms 
with which he is surrounded. Wellington "wore a 
very light grey pelisse coat, single-breasted, without 
a sash, a white neckerchief, with his sword buckled 
round his waist underneath the coat, the hilt merely 
protruding, with a cocked hat under his arm." 

Or on the day of battle, when he chose an 
eminence in front of the village of Arifiez, in the 
very centre of his line, and made it his head- 
quarters during the fight, observing its progress, 
''and directing the movements of the divisions as 
calmly as if he were inspecting the movements of 
a review." ** It is difficult to describe the perfect 
coolness, nay, apparent unconcern," says another 
eye-witness, **with which Lord Wellington gave 
the most important orders, directing the advance 


of a division as he perceived it could act with 
effect. In the early part of the morning his eyes 
were continually directed to that part of the scene 
where he expected to see the head of Sir Thomas 
Graham s column appear." Graham's enveloping 
march on the left,^ aimed at the French line 
of retreat by the Bayonne road, was, as will be 
seen,* a prime cause of the completeness of the 

Instances might be multiplied of his impertur- 
bable coolness and self-possession. They were 
never more remarkable than at Fuente Guinaldo in 
181 1, when, to save Craufurd and enable him to 
make good his retreat, he held his ground with two 
weak divisions, isolated and unsupported, within an 
arm's length of Marmont's united force numbering 
some sixty thousand men. " It seemed the most 
desperate game the army had yet been called upon 
to play," says Vane, who was present. Yet Welling- 
ton was not dismayed. ** You seem quite at your 
ease," said Alava to him ; ** why, it is enough to put 
any man in a fever." ** I have done according to 
the very best of my judgment all that can be done," 
replied Wellington ; "therefore I care not either for 

' On another great battlefield (Waterloo) Wellington's eyes were again 
constantly directed to his left, the road by which he expected the Prussians. 
' Post, p. 142. 


the enemy in front, nor for anything they may say at 
home," A friend who paid him a visit in Spain 
wondered how, with all his anxieties, he could get 
one wink of sleep. " I throw them off with my 
clothes, sleep sound, and when I turn in bed I know 
it is time to get up." 

Larpent, on the strength of Lord Aylmer, at one 
time adjutant-general, tells a story of Wellington's 
sang froid y^hGXi^ in pursuing the French, he came 
upon one of his divisions (Erskines) isolated and 
much exposed to the front. The enemy was re- 
ported in a village close at hand, but not in any 
strength, and it was not until prisoners were brought 
in that Wellington found he had to do with the 
whole French army. *'Oh! they are all there, are 
they.**" was his quiet remark. **Well, we must 
take care what we are about, then." Again, on 
the same authority : Lord Aylmer reported early 
one morning to Wellington, just after Fuentes 
d'Onoro, and when a fresh attack was momentarily 
expected, that **the French were all off — the last 
cavalry mounting to be gone." Wellington was 
shaving, and he merely took away his razor for a 
moment as he replied, ** Ay, I thought they meant 
to be off; very well," and **then another shave just 
as before, without another word till he was dressed."^ 

^ Larpent, 63. 


Not less marked than his own wisdom and self- 
control was his considerateness, nay, his tenderness 
to subordinates who fell into error. Save the one 
unpardonable offence, the unspeakable sin of direct 
disobedience, he could forgive much. The story is 
finely told by Napier of his silent rebuke to. the 
generals who put their judgment before his in the 
retreat from Burgos. Wellington had given orders 
to march by a rather circuitous route in order to 
avoid inundations he knew were out along the main 
road. "This seemed so extraordinary to some 
general officers that, after consulting together, they 
deemed thefr commander unfit to conduct the army, 
and led their troops by what appeared to them the 
fittest line of retreat! He (Wellington) had before 
daylight placed himself at an important point on his 
own road, and waited impatiently for the arrival 
of the leading regiment until dawn ; then, suspect- 
ing what had happened, he galloped to the other 
road, and found the would-be commanders stopped 
by water. The insubordination and the danger 
to the army were alike glaring, yet the practical 
rebuke was so severe and well-timed, the humi- 
liation so complete and so deeply felt, that with one 
proud, sarcastic observation, indicating contempt 
more than anger, he led back the troops and drew 
off his forces safely/' 


The failure at Burgos seems to have drawn 
down upon him the distrust of many he commanded. 
He has himself admitted his errors in that opera- 
tion, but they were not those visited upon him by 
his subordinates. ** The fault of which I was guilty 
. . . was not that I undertook the expedition to 
Burgos with inadequate means, but that I took there 
the most inexperienced instead of the best troops." 
For the failure in the escalade of the fortress he 
blamed the officer entrusted with the command of 
it, who "paid no attention to orders given him both 
orally and in writing, but followed his own plan, 
which was to give no orders. When he fell no one 
knew what to do." After that no fresh attack could 
be made, because the full scheme wais in the pockets 
of the dead man, and fell into the hands of the 
French. Wellington throughout this siege was 
continually hampered for want of means : he could 
not move up a gun from Madrid ; important results 
failed for the want of fifty or sixty mules, and of a 
few bundles of straw to feed them. 

To the last Wellington justified his attack on 
Burgos, the siege of which he raised, and retreated 
"not because there was any pressure upon me, but 
because I did not think Hill secure. I knew that 
if he was obliged to retire (from Madrid) I should 
b^ lost. ... In short, I played a game which 


might succeed (the only one which could succeed), 
and pushed it to the last ; and the parts having 
failed, as I admit was to be expected, ... I 
made a handsome retreat to the Agueda with some 
labour and inconvenience, but without material 

After this retreat we may understand the noble 
modesty of Von Moltke, who would not suffer him- 
self to be put in comparison with Napoleon or 
Wellington, because, unlike them, he had "never 
conducted a retreat." 

One other instance may be given of Welling- 
ton's magnanimity, and that was in his leniency to 
Craufurd after the affair of the Coa. Craufurd 
claimed on that occasion that he knew he could 
defend his position, but Wellington by no means 
agreed with him. ** I am glad to see you safe, 
Craufurd," the chief said when he reappeared. To 
which Craufurd replied, ** Oh, I was in no danger, 
I assure you." " But I was, from your conduct," 
retorted Wellington. Whereupon Craufurd with- 
drew, exclaiming, sotto voce^ "He is d d crusty 

to-day."^ Wellington bore much from Craufurd, 
whose merits he knew well. Only in his private 

^ This incident is referred by Craufiird's biographer to the af&ir at 
Grimaldo, on the strength of Larpent. It seems to be better placed at a 
time just after the Coa. 


correspondence he speaks his mind, and we appre- 
ciate the full measure of his kindly forbearance 
in a letter addressed about this time to Wellesley 
Pole. ** Although I shall be hanged for them," 
he says, "you may be very certain that not only 
have I had nothing to do with, but had positively 
forbidden the foolish affairs in which Craufurd 
involved his outposts. ... In that of the 24th, 
I had positively desired him not to engage in 
any affair on the other side of the Coa; ... I 
had expressed my wish that he should draw on 
the other side of the river; and I repeated my 
injunction that he should not engage in any 
affair on the right of the river, in answer to a 
letter in which he told me tkat he thought the 
cavalry could not remain there without the in- 
fantry. After all this he remained two hours on 
his ground after the enemy had appeared in his 
front." They did not attack at once, and he could 
have retired twice over before they did, and to a 
safe situation, behind the river. **You will say 
. . . why not accuse Craufurd ? I answer, because 
if I am to be hanged for it, I cannot accuse a man 
who I believe has meant well, and whose error is 
one of judgment and not of intention." 



Campaign of Vittoria — Masterly strategy — Advantages of his plan of 
operations — Turning movements ending in battle of Vittoria — Com- 
plete rout — Vast quantity of booty taken. 

1ET US return now to the active operations. 
After five years of strenuous and unceasing 
effort, of varying fortunes, of great triumphs 
neutralised by unavoidable retreat, of flux and re- 
flux, the tide was. now at last to set in one direc- 
tion, and flow onward with an unbroken wave of 
success from Portugal into Southern France. The 
balance was to be now fairly adjusted between the 
opponents, the weight of advantage inclining rather 
to Wellington s side. Napoleon s power had been 
sorely tried by his disasters in Russia; he was 
driven to withdraw troops from Spain to strengthen 
himself at home. Wellington, on the other hand, 
had been largely reinforced in all arms. At the 
close of the preceding year (1812) he had written 
Beresford : "I propose to get into fortune s way ^ 

^ A favourite phrase with Wellington. 



if I should be able to assemble an army sufficiently 
strong ; and we may make a lucky hit in the com- 
mencement of next campaign." Early in 1813 he 
is "very much inclined to apprehend" that ''instead 
of having too few troops in a state of discipline, 
we shall find we have more troops, clothed, armed, 
and disciplined, than the means of the country 
can support.* ... It will answer no purpose to 
bring to the Douro or the Ebro crowds of starving 

His army was, however, in very good case: 
" The troops are all well cantoned ; I hope a con- 
tinuation of rest for a month or two in the spring 
will set us up entirely. I hoped to take the field 
with 70,000 British and Portuguese — I think I 
shall have 40,000 British, and possibly 25,000 Por- 
tuguese, and I shall be better equipped in artil- 
lery and much stronger in cavalry than we have 
yet been," His cavalry reinforcements had been 
substantial, and included the Life Guards and 
Horse Guards. With regard to his auxiliaries, a 
number of fresh Portuguese battalions had been 
raised, and the English general had at last been 
put in supreme command of the armies of Spain, 
a charge he accepted reluctantly and in ignorance 

^ This was ever the crux of campaigning in Spain — too few would not 
succeed, too many could not be subsisted. 


of their real state. Had he known it, he writes, 
" I should have hesitated before I should have 
charged myself with such a Herculean labour 
as its command . . . but I will not relinquish 
the task because it is laborious and the success 
unpromising." To secure the latter he made 
stringent conditions, chief of which was that he 
should exercise uncontrolled authority, not over 
the Spanish army alone, but the whole resources 
of the state. No doubt if the Spanish troops 
had been treated as were the Portuguese in the 
early days of the war, they would have been 
equally efficient. The material was, as it always 
has been, magnificent; properly led, the Spaniards 
have been brave, patient, and enduring, and they 
are excellent marchers. 

The months of leisure in winter quarters had been 
usefully spent in restoring the spirits, improving the 
discipline, and perfecting the organisation of the 
force for the field. Under Wellington's intelligent 
eye, every detail was considered : camp equipage 
and field equipment were seen to ; new tin kettles 
replaced the old iron cooking pots ; the troops gave 
up their great-coats and carried only a blanket, with 
a few necessaries and three pairs of shoes; tents 
were issued, three per company, to put an end to 
bivouacking and billeting ; new baggage carts had 


been devised, numbers of draught animals secured, 
and a pontoon train prepared 

Although Wellington's tactical skill, that of the 
leader on the narrower limits of the battle-field, has 
never been denied, many have doubted his capacity 
as a strategist, his power to plan a comprehensive 
campaign. Vittoria amply refutes such criticism. 
His scheme for the offensive in 1813 was large and 
judicious. It was said in the earlier phases of the 
Peninsular war, and on his own authority, that he 
had no settled plan,^ that he adapted himself to cir- 
cumstances; that he was like a man driving with 
rope harness — if any part gave way, he tied a fresh 
knot and went on again. In 181 3, however, he had 
a clear and deliberate purpose, worked out with con- 
summate astuteness. 

There were risks in his plan of operations, but 
he was prepared to take them ; it depended for suc- 
cess upon the profound secrecy of the first moves, 
and again upon the conquest of physical difficulties 
of no ordinary kind, but he had ascertained by care- 
ful inquiry that they were not insurmountable. 

It was open to various technical objections, as 

^ Sir Brent Spencer once pointed out to Wellington that as he (Spencer) 
was the next senior, he ought to know something of his leader's plans. 
'* I have no plans but to beat the French," was the short answer, inspired 
probably by the reticence that was so strong in him, and not, a little by his 
distrust of Sir Brent Spencer. 


that for a time it split his army into two entirely 
separate parts remote from, unable either to com- 
municate with or support each other. But its 
advantages were commanding. By the direction 
of his march alone, his mere appearance on the 
Esla in force, he would invalidate the whole de- 
fensive line of the French. This was the line of 
the Douro, a formidable natural obstacle strength- 
ened by fortifications, upon which Joseph chiefly 
relied. The French were now confined to the 
north-eastern half of Spain, supposing a line to 
divide it diagonally from the Asturias to Valencia. 
They thus held on, but weakly, to Madrid, while 
they covered their main line of communications 
with France, the royal road from the capital 
through Burgos, and Vittoria to Bayonne. No 
other line of operations promised Wellington so 
much. To force the Douro by frontal attack would 
have • been a serious and costly undertaking ; to 
advance along the valley of the Douro by its south 
bank, so as to strike at the French left, would 
be to betray his intentions and move through an 
exhausted territory. Again, the line he chose was 
that by which he would be least expected — always 
a great point in the assailants favour. No one 
knew, his enemy least of all, that he relied upon 
being able to traverse the rugged, mountainous 


country of North Portugal and South Gallicia ; that 
he had improved the navigation of the Lower Douro 
as high as Lamego, where his left lay. Finally, 
his daring strategy would secure him, if successful, 
a new base, with a short line of communication 
to the Bay of Biscay, and thence to England by 
sea* This transfer of base from Portugal to some 
of the northern ports was indeed the key to his 
present and future operations. When he was thus 
firmly established the French would be vulnerable 
in the most vital point, and a series of well-delivered 
blows should open a road into France. 

Let us now consider this eventful campaign 
more in detail. 

Campaign of Vittoria 

In May 1813, the allied forces, 75,000 strong, 
of whom 44,000 were British troops, occupied a 
line drawn from Lamego on the Douro, its left, 
through Ciudad Rodrigo, to the pass of Baflos, the 
extreme right, under Hill. The Spanish army of 
Gallicia was some 40,000 men, but barely half 
accompanied Wellington. 

At this time the French, 60,000, under King 
Joseph, lay all across Old Castille, from Toledo and 
Madrid on the left, with their centre behind the 


Douro from Valladolid as far as Zamora, where 
the right lined the Esla. 

15M May. Wellington directed Graham, with 
40,cxx) men, to enter theTras os Montes by the valleys 
of the Sabor and Tua (two effluents of the Douro), 
march northward, then work eastward through Bra- 
ganza to the Esla. The road was rugged and diffi- 
cult, so much so that the French never believed it 
could be used. But Wellington's surveys satisfied 
him it was practicable for wheels and guns. Graham 
completed his adventurous march by the 31st May. 

Meanwhile Wellington, so soon as he was satis- 
fied that Graham was well advanced, made a strong 
feint upon Salamanca, so as to occupy and distract 
the French. Hill also co-operated, aiming at the 
fords across the Upper Tormes. These move- 
ments deceived Joseph, who, fully expecting to be 
attacked from the south bank, fell back into his 
strong position behind the Douro. 

Now the sudden arrival of Graham from the 
north, and at a point that jeopardised the whole 
French army by taking the river Douro in reverse, 
struck dismay into the enemy. The French 
hurriedly evacuated their works, destroyed the 
bridges, and fell back in full retreat towards Burgos, 
hoping, however, to make a fresh stand for con- 
centration on the Pisuerga. 


^rd June. Wellington was at Toro, holding 
both sides of the river, and with his whole army 
in hand. Next day he continued his turning move- 
ment, passed the Carrion and then the Pisuerga, 
once more threatening Joseph's right The French 
again retreated, meaning to give battle at Burgos, 
backed by that fortress ; but, receiving an unfavour- 
able report of its condition, Joseph judged it impera- 
tive to retrograde still farther and occupy the line 
of the Ebro. This was a naturally strong position ; 
the river was defensible, and it could only be 
approached from Burgos through narrow defiles, 
one the famous gorge of Pancorbo, which could 
be held by a handful against an army. 

Again Wellington determined to move by the 
left flank, and closely reconnoitred the moun- 
tainous district on that side, where the Ebro 
takes its rise. It was reported, like that in North 
Portugal, unfit for wheeled traffic, but he was not 
deterred thereby. This march again was of the 
most arduous character, the difficulties encountered 
stupendous, but they were gallantly overcome. 
" Neither the winter gullies, nor the ravines, nor 
the precipitate passes among the rocks, retarded 
even the march of the artillery. Where horses 
could not draw, men hauled ; when the wheels 
would not roll, the guns were let down or lifted 


up with ropes. Six days they toiled unceasingly, 
and on the seventh — 

20th June. " They burst like raging streams from 
every defile, and went foaming into the basin of 
Vittoria." Here the hapless king lay at his mercy, 
an easy prey. No decided resistance had been 
offered to Wellington's columns as they debouched 
from the mountains. But Joseph now knew he 
must fight, and at a disadvantage. He was out- 
numbered — the allies were 80,000 strong, flushed 
with unvarying success ; he had but 60,000, and 
his position was vicious, for his battle front was 
parallel to his line of retreat. This front extended 
from Puebla on the left, through Ariiiez in the 
centre, to Vittoria on the right, the whole covered 
by the Zadora River, a narrow stream with difficult 
banks, which flowed in the same direction as the 

Wellington paused the rest of that day (20th), 
to allow his rear columns to close up, but next 
morning he attacked the enemy's position in three 
lines — Hill on the right, he himself in the centre, 
and Graham on the left. Hill's battle was for the 
commanding heights of Puebla, and he was long 
kept at bay ; when at last he drove out the enemy 
and crossed the river, the centre was up in its place 
and ready to attack. But Hill's success had made 


Ariftez, the French centre, untenable, and after 
some stiff fighting they abandoned this position, 
retreating in good order towards Vittoria. Mean- 
while Graham, manoeuvring on the far left, struck 
at the enemy's right and the high - road to 
Bayonne. He too carried all before him; the 
enemy, after a stubborn resistance, were driven 
out of their positions one after the other, so that 
Graham towards sundown was astride of the high- 
road, and closed the direct line of retreat into 

"Never," says Napier, **was an army more 
hardly used by its commander, for the soldiers were 
not half-beaten, and yet never was a victory more 
complete." Wellington, in his own modest language, 
reported that he had driven the enemy from all 
their positions, "having taken from them 151 pieces 
of cannon (the French saved only one gun and 
one howitzer), waggons of ammunition, all their 
baggage, provisions, cattle, treasure, &c, and a 
considerable number of prisoners." The "loot" 
at Vittoria was colossal and heterogeneous. 

The French, so one of the French generals 
(Gazan) records, lost all their equipages, all their 
guns, all their treasure, all their papers, so that no 
man could prove even how much pay was due to 
him. Generals and subordinate officers alike were 


reduced to the clothes on their backs, and most of 
them were barefooted. Joseph's carriage was inter- 
cepted on the road to Pampeluna, and he barely 
escaped by mounting a fleet horse. Carriages 
innumerable were captured, laden with women ^ and 
plunder. Among the first were titled ladies of the 
court and many children ; the latter comprised the 
spoils of years, gathered up by the unscrupulous 
usurpers of Spanish soil — plate, pictures,* jewellery, 
wine, furniture, valuables of all kinds. There were 
five and a half millions of dollars in the treasure- 
chests, although not a fiftieth part was recovered, 
so expert were the British marauders. 

Vittoria was a crowning triumph, the fit comple- 
tion of this remarkable campaign. The able strategy 
that had placed his army in a position to gain it, was 
only equalled by Wellington's tactical superiority on 
the field of battle. The victory had great and far- 
reaching results. It practically ended the war in 
the Peninsula, and almost entirely cleared it of 

' A French prisoner after the battle said to Wellington, " Le fait est, 
monseigneur, que voos avez une arm^, mais nous sommes un bordel 

' Some of the pictures, which had been cut from their frames for con- 
venience of carriage, were famous old masters taken from the Royal Gallery, 
and of great value. Wellington restored them to King Ferdinand, their 
lawful owner, but he would not accept them, and sent them back to 
Wellington. They are the nucleus of the well-known picture gallery in 
Apsley House. 


French troops^ True, a force remained in Cata- 
lonia under Suchet, but more or less on sufferance ; 
one or two fortresses still hoisted the French flag, 
but neither San Sebastian (which was at once 
besieged) nor Pampeluna (which was blockaded) 
could hope to hold out long. Another and though 
small gain to the British was the change of base, 
its transfer from Portugal to North Spain, which, as 
has been pointed out already, was a prominent 
feature in Wellington's plans. He had now fully 
justified the words he is said to have uttered, 
" Good-bye, Portugal ! " when he rode away a short 
month previously to join Graham upon the Esla. 



Soult supersedes King Joseph in south of France — Relative positions 
of English and French — Soult's attack — Battles of Sauroren — Wel- 
lington will not invade France prematurely — The passages of the 
Bidassoa, Nivelle, Nive, and Adour — Battle of Toulouse — Peace — 
Dispersion of Peninsular army. 

THE giant, although sorely beset, was not yet 
in the death-throes, and Napoleon was bent 
on making one last desperate effort to stay 
Wellington's now imminent invasion of France. 
An imperial decree superseded Joseph and installed 
Soult as the Emperor's lieutenant in the south of 
France and Spain. Soult hurried post haste to 
the scene of action, which he reached on the 
13th July, and by the most tremendous exertions 
rapidly reorganised and consolidated the beaten 
army. His object was to resume the offensive 
without delay, having, with true soldierly insight, 
exactly gauged Wellington's now difficult position. 
Soult was sanguine that a prompt initiative would 
be attended with decided success. 

At this date the allied armies held the passes 

145 K 


of the Pyrenees — their southern issues, that is to 
say — and were disposed so as to cover both the 
blockade of Pampeluna and the siege of San 
Sebastian. The position was defective ; Wellington 
knew it, but could not mend it and still carry on 
the business he had in hand. Its chief faults, as he 
himself pointed out in a despatch at the end of the 
operations now at hand, were that lateral com- 
munication between the points held by the British 
was "tedious and difficult"; that of the enemy 
upon the northern side of the passes was, on the 
other hand, "easy and short"; in case of attack, the 
most advanced posts in the first line could not 
support each other, and could only be reinforced 
from the rear. 

Soult saw the strategic advantages he enjoyed ; 
saw that he might gather swiftly against one flank 
and strike at it with overwhelming force before the 
other and distant flank or any of the intervening 
parts could reinforce it. He had but to choose 
between the two ends — whether he could essay 
to relieve San Sebastian at one, or Pampeluna at 
the other. The latter was the weakest, the most 
isolated, that which must soonest fall ; San Sebas- 
tian he thought could still hold out, having sea 
communication with France, and being stoutly 


Campaign of the Pyrenees. 

He had three principal corps cTarm^e and a 
reserve ; the right under Reille, the centre under 
D*Erlon, the left under Clausel. Villatte com- 
manded the reserve. 

2 ^h July. Reille and Clausel, with a part of 
D'Erlon's corps, were collected at St. Jean Pied de 
Port, and fell upon the British right at Ronces- 
valles. D'Erlon at the same time attacked the 
centre at Maya. All the British commanders, after 
fighting with great tenacity, retreated into positions 
far to the rear. 

2^th July, Late in the night Wellington, who 
was at San Sebastian, heard of Soult's advance, 
and he mounted and rode at once to the threatened 
right, fifty miles distant, and as he passed along 
the line he gathered up all the troops he found 
and directed every one to follow him. 

27M July. Having ridden hard all day (26th), 
he reached Sauroren, where Picton and Cole were 
already aux prises with Soult. The English com- 
mander was alone — the one staff-officer who had 
galloped with him (Lord Fitz Roy Somerset) he 
had but lately sent with a pressing pencilled order 
for concentration — and as Wellington breasted the 


steep hill-slope he was recognised by some Portu- 
guese, who greeted him with tumultuous cheers. 
This inspiriting welcome was taken up and tossed 
from regiment to regiment along the crests of the 
hills. It was a small matter, yet this ebullition of 
enthusiastic confidence in a leader who had never 
yet been worsted had its effect, as Wellington anti- 
cipated, upon the coming engagement. ** Yonder," 
he said aloud, *' is a great commander, but he is cau- 
tious, and will delay the attack until he can ascer- 
tain the cause of those cheers ; that will give time 
for the 6th Division to arrive, and I shall beat him." 
In the two battles of Sauroren which followed 
and were fiercely disputed — "bludgeon work," as 
Wellington called them— the advantage was alto- 
gether to the British. Soult received reinforce- 
ments, and used them skilfully to withdraw his 
forces, having previously sent his guns, cavalry, 
and wounded to the rear. He opened up a new 
line of retreat, but was in the narrow valley of St. 
Esteban with a force (35,000) closely hemmed in, 
when the unexpected appearance of three maraud- 
ing red-coats betrayed the near neighbourhood of 
Wellington's encircling army, and Soult made good 
his escape. **Thus the disobedience of three plun- 
dering knaves, unworthy of the name of soldiers, 
deprived one consummate commander of the most 


splendid success, and saved another from the most 
terrible disaster." Wellington had hoped **to do 
the enemy more mischief," and yet the French suf- 
fered terribly in this boldly conceived but hazardous 
operation. Between the 25th July and the 2nd 
August they were engaged seriously no less than 
ten times, on many occasions in attacking strong 
positions, in others defending them only to be 
driven out and pursued. Nor did the British 
come off without enduring great hardships, for all 
at the end of the fighting were footsore, shoeless, 
and fatigued. 

315/ August. Soult made yet another effort to 
relieve San Sebastian, but on the very day that 
he had thrown bridges across the Bidassoa and 
attacked the Spaniards on the lower banks, the 
fortress was stormed and captured. The remnant 
of its brave garrison withdrew into the citadel, but 
surrendered ten days later with all the honours 
of war. Pampeluna still held out, but Soult left 
it to its fate, and retired behind the Bidassoa, 
condemned now to a defensive attitude for the rest 
of the campaign. For a brief space he was allowed 
a respite, for, although much urged to it, Wellington 
was still firmly resolved to make no premature 
invasion of France. The strength of his character 
was once again finely displayed in resisting pressure 


and declining to commit his army to further adven- 
ture before they were refreshed and re-equipped. 
*' An army which has made such marches and has 
fought such battles as has that under my command 
is necessarily much deteriorated. Independent of 
the actual loss of numbers by death, wounds, and 
sickness, many men and officers are out of the 
ranks for various causes. The equipment of the 
army, their ammunition, the soldiers' shoes, &c., 
require renewal ; the magazines for the new opera- 
tions require to be collected and formed, and many 
arrangements to be made, without which the army 
could not exist a day." ^ As usual, he had to depend 
mainly on himself. He got no assistance from the 
navy, although the sea was his chief line of com- 
munication. " The supplies of all kinds from Lisbon 
and other ports in Portugal are delayed for want 
of convoy." ^ Necessaries came quite as slowly from 

* To Lord Bathurst, 8th August 1813. 

' The shortcomings of the Admiralty at this particular juncture were a 
constant subject of complaint with Wellington. They would be inconceiv- 
able were not other contemporary records full of the incompetence of that 
department. Wellington spoke his mind plainly to the First Lord : "I com- 
plain of an actual want of necessary naval assistance and co-operation with the 
army. ... I know nothing of the causes. ... I state the fact, which nobody 
will deny." The navy had utterly failed to keep up the blockade of San 
Sebastian; yet the possession of the place was of the utmost importance 
before the bad season set in. All the British could afford was one frigate, 
and a few brigs and cutters only fit to carry despatches. The soldiers had 
to unload the transports, because no seamen could be furnished ; and harbour 
boats of weak construction had to be used to land ofdnance and shot and shelL 


England. Moreover, the troops were still tainted 
with some of the old evils. The bonds of discipline 
had slackened under the trials of continuous cam- 
paigning and the temptations that follow in the train 
of unbroken victory. It was necessary to reform 
as well as to reorganise. The army must be "set 
to rights " — Wellington's own words — and this 
would be far more difficult if it was carried into the 
enemy's country. " If we were five times stronger 
than we are," he writes, **we could not venture to 
enter France if we cannot prevent our soldiers 
from plundering." 

*'Your lordship (Earl Bathurst) may depend 
upon it that I am by no means tired of success, 
and shall do everything in my power to draw 
attention to this quarter as soon as I shall know 
that hostilities are really renewed in Germany" — 
and when time was ripe for the next move ahead. 

Tth October. At length he deemed it expedient 
to cross the Bidassoa in order to establish his left 
more securely. This "stupendous operation," as 
Napier calls it, was an enterprise "as daring and 
dangerous as any undertaken during the whole 
war." Soult occupied the rocky heights of the 
northern bank with a series of strong entrench- 
ments ; down on the lower river artillery raked 
the known foi;^s ; and higher up, the mountains 


themselves, the greater and the lesser Rhune and 
other almost inaccessible crags, had been worked 
into the line of defence. 

Wellington having learnt that there were other 
fords practicable only at low water, and that the tide 
here rises and falls sixteen feet, secretly laid his 
plans to throw a strong force across the sands at 
the mouth of the river. He left his tents standing, 
and so deceived the enemy that his columns were 
soon across and firmly established on the northern 
shore, from which they at once assailed the French 
redoubts. Meanwhile the Spaniards had gone over 
by the known fords, and the French, taken at both 
flanks, evacuating their works, fell back precipitately. 
The risk of this attack had been tremendous ; any 
prolonged check would have been fatal, ** because 
in two hours the returning tide would have come 
in with a swallowing flood upon the rear," Higher 
up the river, on Wellington's right, there was a 
more obstinate struggle. The French were greatly 
favoured by their position among the mountain 
fastnesses, but these the intrepid gallantry of British 
and Spaniards eventually carried. 

Wellington was now in France, but only on its 
rocky verge ; his army, half famished and shivering, 
high up among the hills, still looked down upon the 
smiling plains as to a promised land, and pined to 


be led farther forward. Soult had withdrawn be- 
hind the Nivelle, where, with inexhaustible pluck 
and patience, he constructed a new line of works 
second only in strength to those in which Wellington 
had defied Massena at Torres Vedras. His right 
was nearly impregnable, resting on the sea ; his 
left was among mountain ridges that could not be 
turned ; only in the centre, at its junction with the 
left, was a weak spot, where Wellington broke in 
with superior numbers, and separating the parts, 
beat each in turn. The right, taken in reverse, was 
no longer tenable, and in due course withdrew. 
The fighting on the Nivelle extended over three 
days, and was of a very desperate character. 
Wellington told Sir Henry Bunbury almost im- 
mediately afterwards that of all his battles he 
was best satisfied with the Nivelle, and that had 
he been able to trust the Spaniards for only a 
couple of hours, he would have forced Soult's right 
wing to lay down its arms. His superior strategy 
shown in his adoption of the true line of movement, 
and his excellent tactical combinations, were nobly 
seconded by the courage of his troops. Soult, who 
had thought his position nearly impregnable, now 
took up the line of the Nive, still farther to the 
rear, with a large part of his force in an entrenched 
camp on the Adour below Bayonne. The French 


were well placed in the centre of a circle, around 
the circumference of which Wellington s army was 
distributed in difficult ground, and but poorly sup- 
plied with food and forage. 

Accordingly the English commander determined 
to throw his army across the Nive and gain com- 
mand of the more fertile country beyond. His 
whole force was now formed into three corps, 
commanded respectively by Hill, Beresford, and 
Hope. His army had recently been weakened by 
his summary dismissal of his Spanish allies for their 
excesses in France, but he knew that the whole 
country would rise in arms against marauders, and 
that he was better without the Spaniards. 

<jth December. Hope was to advance with the 
left and occupy Soult, while Beresford in the centre 
and Hill on the right crossed the Nive. Soult, 
benefiting by his central position, struck first at 
Hope, but was foiled after some very severe fight- 
ing; then, believing Hill to be alone and unsupported 
upon the French side of the Nive, he turned, and 
found him in a really critical position between the 
rivers. The battle of St. Pierre which followed, 
and in which Hill stood the shock alone, and won 
just before the arrival of the 6th Division, sent by 
Wellington to his support, was one of the most 
desperate in the whole war. '* Wellington said he 


had never seen a field so thickly strewn with dead ; 
nor can the vigour of the combatants be well denied 
when 5000 men were killed and wounded in three 
hours upon a space of one mile." After this the 
opposing armies went into winter quarters, Soult 
extending from Bayonne along the Adour, Wel- 
lington across the Nive, but based still upon the 
Biscayan ports. 

The year 18 14, which was to see the termina- 
tion of this protracted struggle, found Wellington 
still full of political embarrassments, but superla- 
tively strong in numbers, and with an overflowing 
military chest. His aim now was to advance 
farther into France and rally the Bourbon party 
round him, but it was necessary first to reduce or 
neutralise Bayonne. For this purpose investment 
was indispensable, and yet the north side could 
only be reached by bridging the Adour, a great 
river with a strong current, held with troops and 
gunboats above the town, while below the tide-way 
ran seven miles an hour, and there were French 
warships to interfere with any attempted passage. 
Yet Wellington once more resolved to turn the 
seemingly impossible to his purpose, and rightly 
judging that Soult would not look for him below 
Bayonne, laid his plans to bridge the Adour near 
the mouth, six miles from the town, **at a point 


so barred with sands, so beaten with surges, so 
difficult of navigation even with landmarks, some 
of which the French had removed, that it seemed 
impossible for vessels fit for a bridge to enter 
from the sea ; and a strong defensive force would 
inevitably bar the construction if they could." 

22nd February. While Wellington's right and 
centre drew Soult from Bayonne by operating 
against his left upon the higher Adour, Sir John 
Hope was entrusted with the formation of the 
great bridge at the mouth of that river. Tempes- 
tuous weather delayed this extraordinary operation, 
and the flotilla to be employed was still at sea, 
when Hope, '* whose firmness no untoward event 
could ever shake, resolved to attempt the passage 
with the army alone." Small parties were thrown 
across till a respectable force was gathered on the 
north bank, the French having made no effort to 
check them till too late. 

2/^k February, The vessels came in under 
full sail, and were driven recklessly across the 
raging surge to the point where the bridge was 
to be laid. Happily, when once within the river 
banks, the outermost acted as a breakwater, and 
enabled the large two-masted boats {chasse marges) 
employed to ride safely and support the nearest 
artillery and carriages. Nevertheless, "misfortune. 


the errors of the enemy, the matchless skill and 
daring of the British seamen, the discipline and 
intrepidity of the British soldiers, all combined by 
the genius of Wellington, were necessary to the 
success of this stupendous undertaking, which must 
always rank among the prodigies of war." 

Wellington s forward movement on the right 
had been prosecuted with great vigour. Within 
sixteen days he traversed eighty miles, passed five 
large and several small rivers, forced the enemy 
to abandon two fortified bridge-heads and many 
minor works, carried one great battle (Orthez) and 
two combats . . . forced Soult to abandon Bayonne, 
and cut him off from Bordeaux." * Soult had never 
a chance from the first. " Having early proved 
the power of his adversary, he had never deceived 
himself about the ultimate course of the campaign, 
and, therefore, struggled without hope, a hard task." 
In a campaign of nine months' duration he deli- 
vered twenty-four battles and combats. ** Defeated 
in all, he fought the last as fiercely as the first, 
remaining unconquered in mind, and still intent 
upon renewing the struggle, when peace came to 
put a stop to his prodigious efforts." He made 
his last stand at Toulouse, a strategic centre com- 
manding many roads, and the chief arsenal of the 

^ Napier. 


south of France, and here he lost the last battle of 
the campaign, although he made good his retreat. 
About the same time the garrison of Bayonne 
made a determined sortie, and the besiegers nar- 
rowly escaped a serious disaster. 

ii/^ April. In the afternoon of the day after 
the battle, news reached Toulouse of the abdica- 
tion of Napoleon, and that the war was at an end. 
Spaniards and Portuguese recrossed the Pyre- 
nees ; part of the British infantry was shipped to 
America, part came home ; the cavalry marched 
through France, and embarked for England at 
Boulogne. Wellington himself passed on to Paris, 
but before leaving his army he issued a farewell 
order asking them to accept his thanks for their 
service. Although circumstances may alter the 
relations in which he has stood to them for some 
years, so much to his satisfaction, he assures them 
he will never cease to feel the warmest interest 
in their welfare and honour, and that he "will at 
all times be happy to be of any service to those 
to whose conduct, discipline, and gallantry their 
country is so much indebted." This was the 
amende honorable. The hard words so freely cast 
upon early misdeeds, the sharp discipline so often 
applied to correct disorder, were forgotten now in 
the hour of final triumph. It was of this same 


army, and a little before the conclusion of the war, 
that he spoke in such glowing terms to Sir Henry 
Bunbury : " I have the finest army that ever man 
commanded. I don't believe there ever was such 
an army. Not a man or officer behaves ill, except 

," mentioning one or two ; " and the Portuguese 

are nearly as good as the British troops." After 
all, the credit of their transformation was princi- 
pally due to himself. The pity of it was that they 
were soon dispersed to the four corners of the 
earth. Fourteen thousand British veterans were at 
once sent to be frittered away in a fratricidal war 
beyond the Atlantic, and, as we shall presently see, 
Wellington had to fight out the next and last con- 
test with much more doubtful material. 



Escape from Elba — Coalition of Great Powers, and vast preparations — 
Belgium filled with allied troops — Blucher's and Wellington's armies 
— Napoleon's efforts — His army — His plan of action — Considerations 
— Wellington's position examined. 

WELLINGTON was checked in his home- 
ward journey by a call for his presence 
in Madrid, where Ferdinand VII. had 
ascended the throne. Thence he moved northward, 
and again passing through Paris, reached London 
on the 23rd June. He was the great hero of the 
hour. The mob dragged his carriage through the 
streets ; he was the chosen, honoured companion of 
the allied sovereigns just then the guests of England. 
Now he took his seat in the House of Lords, 
passing through every grade of the peerage at one 
and the same time — saluted in succession ** Baron," 
" Viscount," ** Earl," *' Marquis," and " Duke." He 
received the thanks of the Commons clad in the full 
dress of a field-marshal, and was presented with the 
noble gift of ;^400,ooo; last of all, he carried the sword 
of state at the public thanksgiving in St. Pauls. 



rgc Allen. 

StanSjrds GviarrEsUa! 


But his labours as the champion and saviour of 
Europe were not yet ended. Napoleon, exiled to 
Elba after the capitulation of Paris in 1814, returned 
to France on the ist March in the following year. 
This startling news was everywhere received with 
indignation and alarm. The disturbing element was 
once more set free to scatter desolation through 
Europe. The Great Powers, whose representatives 
were just then wrangling in congress at Vienna, 
united to make common cause against Napoleon. 
It was affirmed as a principle that there could be 
no comfort or safety until the disturber of Euro- 
pean tranquillity had been crushed and overthrown. 
Napoleon should have neither peace nor truce. 
England, Russia, Austria, and Prussia bound them- 
selves by solemn treaty to furnish each 150,000 men, 
and to remain under arms until the great object of 
the war had been attained. All eyes were turned 
on Wellington, and it is reported that the Czar 
Alexander said to him, as he placed his hand 
familiarly upon his shoulder : " C est pour vous en- 
core sauver le monde." 

Vast preparations were at once set on foot. 
Austria slowly collected a gigantic host upon the 
Rhine frontier. Russia, more remote, had called 
out a quarter of a million of men, and was to 
act in support of Austria. England and Prussia, 


concentrating more rapidly, soon filled Belgium, *' the 
cockpit of Europe," with troops. By the end of May 
Wellington had under his orders a mixed force of 
100,000 men, with 194 guns ; Marshal Blucher com- 
manded an army of 1 20,000, all Prussians, with 300 
guns. Wellington's army was a polyglot, hetero- 
geneous body. British, Hanoverians, Dutch, Bel- 
gians, and Nassauers served side by side. Of the 
first, only a small portion were seasoned veterans, 
but few of them his old Peninsular comrades, the 
men who (when pleased with them) he had said 
could '*go anywhere and do anything." His own 
army was largely composed of second battalions, 
hastily filled up with militia recruits. Of the total 
30,000 British, not above 6000 had seen a shot fired 
before.^ For purposes of defensive fight they proved 
equal to the best, but Wellington would not have 
dared to manoeuvre them under heavy fire over 
rough ground. His own opinion, as given to Lord 
Stanhope in 1840, of his Waterloo army, was that 
on the whole it was certainly **an infamously bad 
one, and the enemy knew it. But, however, it beat 
them." As for his allies, he had no great reason to 

^ '* I never saw such a set of boys, both officers and men," said an old 
general (Mackenzie) when inspecting the 3rd battalion 14th at Brussels. 
Fourteen officers and three hundred men were under twenty years of age. 
" The worst army ever brought together,'* the Duke said before the battle ; yet 
after it, it was his opinion that he *' never saw British infantry behave so well." 


trust the fidelity of the Brunswickers and Nassauer 
troops, raised in countries long subject to French 
influence. Both the Hanoverian and Dutch Bel- 
gian contingents were made up of raw recruits. 
But the English cavalry was magnificent, well 
mounted and equipped, and thoroughly trained, the 
very flower of the army; and the artillery was 
splendid, efficient and complete at every point.^ As 
regards his officers, the English commander had 
but few of his great Peninsular lieutenants to sup- 
port him ; Hill and Picton were the chief, with 
Clinton, Kempt, Colville, Pack, De Lancy, Shaw 
Kennedy, and a few more. His staff, except the 
personal, were not his own choice, but made up 
mostly of the friends of the Duke of York. Never 
had nepotism been more in the ascendant, and the 
great general, whose prowess had been so fully 
proved, had no voice in the selection of the agents 
who were to work out his views. He complains 
bitterly to Lord Bathurst, in a letter dated 4th May : 
** To tell you the truth, I am not very well pleased 
either with the manner in which the Horse Guards 
have conducted themselves towards me. It will be 
admitted that the army is not a very good one ; and 

^ When Blucher accompanied the Duke in his inspection of Mercer's 
battery of horse artillery, he was so struck with its splendid appearance that 
he declared every horse in it was fit for a field -marshal. 


being composed as it is, I might have expected that 
the generals and staff" formed by me in the late war 
would have been allowed to me again ; but, instead, 
I am overloaded with people I have never seen 
before, and it seems to have been intended to keep 
those out of the way whom I wished to have. 
However, I will do the best I can with the instru- 
ments sent to assist me." 

*' I have got an infamous army," he wrote Lord 
Stewart, "very weak and ill equipped; and a very 
inexperienced staff"." This staff" was clearly re- 
sponsible for that neglect to strengthen La Haye 
Sainte which led to its capture by the French and 
nearly jeopardised the day. Wellington took the 
blame of it himself — he never hesitated to accept 
responsibility even for the omissions of others — but 
proposals to fortify La Haye Sainte had been put 
before the headquarter staff", and either rejected or 

Napoleon, as is well known, strained every nerve 
throughout the early part of the famous ** Hundred 
Days" to reorganise the troops he had so often 
led to victory, and who now received him with 
universal acclaim. Although long years of inces- 
sant warfare had drained France of men, and 
military service was not too popular, Napoleon 
made prodigious exertions to raise new levies, and 



he had at hand the veterans who had been prisoners 
of war till the peace, and who now at once fell into 
line. He carried out many urgent services ; he 
fortified and armed Paris, replenished the frontier 
fortresses, found remounts and equipped cavalry 
and guns anew, revived the Imperial Guard, in- 
creased the number of regimental officers, and 
raised two hundred battalions of National Guards. 
Many (although not all) of his generals, the men 
he had made, had rallied round him ; Soult, Ney, 
Grouchy, Reille, D'Erlon, Vandamme, Gerard, 
Lobau, Exelmans, Kellermann, Milhaud, had 
thrown in their fortunes with his, and were ap- 
pointed to various commands. 

As the result of thesfe extraordinary exertions 
he had by the beginning of June an army of little 
less than 200,000 men available for active opera- 
tions in the field. After making many inevitable 
deductions for the occupation and observation of 
other points, there remained some 1 28,000 men 
whom he concentrated upon the northern frontier 
of France. With this obviously disproportionate 
force he resolved to attack the allied armies in 

The enterprise might seem hazardous, but it 
was well conceived. Many reasons concurred to 
induce Napoleon to take the offensive at once. 


Time with him was everything. Day by day his 
enemies gathered strength. Within another month 
or so Austrians and Russians would be on the 
eastern frontier in overwhelming numbers. He 
could not with safety to himself await attack on 
any side. Any invasion the least successful had 
no doubt alienated French sympathy and hastened 
his abdication. He could not risk that chance 
again, and yet the allies in Belgium already menaced 
Paris ; Wellington, as we now know, was already 
considering schemes for advance. A prompt ini- 
tiative promised much to Napoleon. Early success 
would bring him manifest, even incalculable advan- 
tages. If he could beat English and Prussians, 
capture Brussels and hold Belgium, he might then 
turn to the Rhine and defend it against attack from 
the eastward ; he might detach Austria, ever waver- 
ing, from the coalition, and by these new triumphs 
revive the flagging enthusiasm of his people. 

True, he was inferior in numbers to his two 
enemies combined. But he knew accurately the 
nondescript character of Wellington's army, and 
he had often beaten the Prussians before. He 
counted not a little upon his own personal pre- 
sence, and the impetus it would give to his devoted 
troops ; he knew himself to be a past-master in the 
art of war, the superior probably to the generals 


opposed to him, whose dispositions, so far as he 
could ascertain them, were faulty, and exposed 
them to defeat. By the very nature of the duty 
imposed upon them, the allied armies were hampered 
by strategic difficulties from the first. They were 
to combine in defence of Belgium, yet each covered 
a divergent line of communications upon bases 
widely apart. The English were based upon 
Ostend and Antwerp, the Prussians upon Cologne. 
If forced back each by his own line, they must 
separate as they retreated, while a victorious enemy 
was securely planted between them. To aim at. 
their nearest point of junction, thrust himself in 
and attack each singly before the other could re- 
inforce, offered Napoleon a marvellous strategic 
opportunity. This was the plan, the almost 
obvious plan, he adopted. 

Wellington s military reputation has been much 
assailed for his failure to realise this. To the last 
he looked for the French upon his right ; he firmly 
beKeved that Napoleon would advance by the line 
of Mons or Tournai on Hal and Brussels, and 
held his principal forces therefore on that side. 
Most of the English troops were on the right ; 
the reserves were in and around Brussels ; the 
Dutch and Belgians on the left filled in the line 
and communicated with the Prussians. Wellington 


never changed this opinion. In a memorandum 
written in 1842 upon Waterloo he adhered to it, and 
even thought that after Quatre Bras Napoleon would 
more wisely have operated against his (Welling- 
ton's) extreme right at Hal. We have no means of 
knowing what induced this pertinacious adherence 
to what seems a strategical error. Some writers 
have imagined the Duke was in possession of some 
secret information that biassed his judgment The 
only advantage this line offered Napoleon was that 
it threatened the Duke s communications with the 
sea — an obvious advantage of course, but which was 
more than counterbalanced by the fact that attack 
in this direction would have thrown Wellington 
back on Blucher and forced that concentration 
of the allies it was Napoleon's first business to 

Wellington's fears for his right survived the 
definite knowledge that the enemy was advancing 
by the centre. It lasted through the whole of the 
great day of battle, when victory hung by a thread 
and every man was required on the field. Yet 
throughout the action Wellington kept almost a 
whole division (Colville's), some 4000 men, inactive 
at Hal, some six miles distant from Waterloo, too far 
to give effective aid. There was no reason for this. 
Quite early on the 18th it was known that the 


weight of Napoleon s attack would be upon the 
centre. Moreover, to make any move against the 
British right would have been a long flank march 
in the presence of a powerful enemy. Had Colville 
been summoned to the battle-field even so late as 
8 A.Kf., he could have been on the ground before 
the action commenced ; at any time later during 
the day, up to two or three o^clock, he could still 
have rendered valuable assistance. There is force, 
therefore, in the adverse comments so freely made 
on this mistake, and there is indeed no defence 
for the error to use all available strength in such 
a closely contested and momentous affair. Yet it 
may be said for Wellington (and I do not re- 
member to have heard this point raised) that a 
fresh and unbroken division on the right flank 
would have availed much if the day had gone 
against us ; Colville's men, if skilfully handled, 
might have covered the retreat from Hal through 
Ninove on Ghent and Ostend. Was not Wel- 
lington, in fact, technically right in keeping a re- 
serve intact for use in case of disaster? 



Opening of Waterloo campaign — Napoleon's advance — Position of 
the allies— Forces widely disseminated — Rupture imminent— Tardy 
concentration — Ligny and Quatre Bras — Retreat on Waterloo — 
Napoleon's pursuit — Did Wellington ride to Wavre? — The great 
charger " Copenhagen"— Evidence for and against the ride. 

HAVING decided upon his plan of operations, 
Napoleon put it into execution with all 
possible secrecy and despatch. No one, 
under penalty of death, was permitted to cross the 
frontier, and behind this (as he hoped) impenetrable 
screen he prepared his attack. But news, definite 
although imperfect, reached the allied commanders 
about the 14th that the French were on the move. 
In the early part of. June Napoleons five cot^s 
(Carntie had been stationed as follows : — 

First and second, under D'Erlon and Reille, 
were on the Belgian frontier. 

Third, under Vandamme, in the Ardennes. 

Fourth, under Gerard, on the Moselle. 

Sixth, with the Imperial Guard and the reserve 

cavalry, on the road from Paris moving northwards. 




The fifth corps was employed on special service 
guarding the approaches to the Rhine. 

i^thjuiie. Quickly and with wonderful precision 
the whole of these forces were concentrated behind 
the Sambre on that night. The left wing was 
at Solre-sur-Sambre, the centre about Beaumont, 
the right at Philippeville. The direction of all was 
towards Charleroi, a town on the high-road to 
Brussels, and but thirty-four miles from that capital. 
Orders were issued for a general advance at dawn 
next day, the 15th June- 
Let us now review the positions of the allies 
upon this 14th June, the eve of the short but most 
memorable Waterloo campaign. Wellington had 
formed his forces into two army corps, a reserve 
and a cavalry corps. 

1°. The first corps was under the command of 
the Prince of Orange, and consisted of the ist 
Division (Cooke), 3rd (Alten), 2nd Dutch Belgian 
(Perpoucher), 3rd Dutch Belgian (Chass6). 

2". The second corps was under Lord Hill, and 
was made up of the 2nd Division (Clinton), 4th 
(Colville), and the ist Dutch Belgian (Stedmann). 

The cavalry were under the Earl of Uxbridge 
(afterwards Marquis of Anglesea) ; and 

3**. The reserve, composed of the 5th and 6th 
Divisions, commanded respectively by Picton and 


Cole, he held in his own hands. There was a 7 th 
Division, and a Brunswick, Hanoverian, and Nassau 
corps. Wellington, to watch his portion of the 
frontier, and having always the fear for his right in 
mind, held his first corps about Mons, Nivelles, and 
Enghien ; his second was farther to the westward, 
along the line of the Scheldt, while the reserve was 
in and around Brussels. 

Blucher s army was in four corps, commanded 
by Ziethen, Pirch, Thielmann, and Biilow. The 
first corps (Ziethen) was in and about Charleroi ; 
the second (Pirch) was at Namur, the third (Thiel- 
mann) still farther to the left rear at Ciney, and the 
fourth (Billow) away back at Li^ge. 

This dispersion of the allied forces over a line 
one hundred miles wide and forty miles deep has 
been sharply criticised by military, writers. To 
emphasise the fault — and such it clearly was — the 
allied commanders suffered their forces to remain in 
their cantonments until the exact line of the French 
was clearly developed. They should rather have 
been assembled immediately the report arrived that 
the French were in motion ; they should have been 
collecting and concentrating upon the 14th at points 
where they could oppose the enemy's advance and 
at the same time mutually support each other. 
Their neglect, oversight, error, call it what we may. 


placed them for a time in imminent peril. They 
were in the first instance so widely scattered that 
they, and Wellington in particular, could not at first 
bring more than fi-actions to face Napoleon's attack. 
Had the French Emperor been more intelligently 
and promptly seconded, the campaign would have 
ended very differently, and history must have told 
another tale. 

15/^ June, The first point of impact was at 
Charleroi, in the morning, where the French came 
into collision with Ziethen, who, acting under 
Blucher s orders, fell back, fighting, upon Fleurus. 
At the same time orders were sent to hurry up the 
other Prussian division. Wellington's action was 
slower and more circumspect. He appears to have 
been informed about midday the 15th that the French 
had definitely abandoned the western road by Mons, 
and were all gathering towards Charleroi. He 
hesitated to accept this news as final, ^nd would 
not move his army against what might prove to be 
a feint. This surely was an error in judgment, and 
his tardy concentration towards his left jeopardised 
his own position, while it quite precluded him from 
supporting Blucher if attacked, as he soon was, 
by Napoleon. Both the allied generals were 
agreed upon the paramount importance of main- 
taining their lateral communications, yet they were 


outgeneralled, and so completely, that at 3 p.m. on 
the 15th, to quote Chesney, **but one Prussian 
division was near the ground (of coming contest), 
and, saving one division (Perpouchers Dutch Bel- 
gians), not a man of Wellington's army within reach 
of it, whilst the head of a column of 40,000 French- 
men had crossed the Sambre at Marchiennes, and 
that of another of nearly 70,000 was entering 
Charleroi ! *' 

By nightfall on the 15th complete rupture be- 
tween the allies was imminent, and Ney, to whom 
Napoleon had that day confided sole command of 
the left, was at Frasne, upon the Brussels road, 
having in front of him only one brigade of Dutch 
Belgians, under Prince Bernard of Saxe-Weimar. 
That officer, with great promptitude, had however 
occupied and was holding Quatre Bras. His judg- 
ment in this respect has been questioned, on the 
theory that he was exposing a fraction to be over- 
powered by a vastly superior force ; but if it was 
right at all to offer resistance so far in advance, 
then it was imperative to retain Quatre Bras at 
all hazards. Wellington was of this opinion. Al- 
though he had first ordered concentration upon 
Nivelles, he presently realised that he must take 
more to his left — to Quatre Bras, in short — if he 
would co-operate with Blucher. Opinions differ as 


to the precise moment that he came to this 


obvious conclusion. In his own despatch written 
after Waterloo, he implies that he had issued 
the orders .for Quatre Bras upon the night of the 
15th. Baron Muffling, the Prussian commissioner 
attached to British headquarters, records that Wel- 
lington said to him at midnight on the 15th, 
"Orders for the concentration of my army at 
Nivelles and Quatre Bras are already despatched." 
Lord Malmesbury, who was at the Duke of Rich- 
mond's ball, writes that he heard the Duke of 
Wellington make a similar statement to his host 
just before leaving the ball. Yet no such orders 
have been preserved, and there is strong pre- 
sumptive evidence that Wellington did not order 
the Quatre Bras concentration till the morning of 
the 1 6th June. The movement was even slower 
than he calculated, with the result that Prince 
Bernard of Saxe-Weimar and Perpouchen who 
reinforced, were for some hours in front of Ney's 
superior force, and in grave danger. 

16/A /une. Napoleon did not act with his 
customary promptitude. Although he had seen 
and given Ney verbal instructions to attack the 
English, he was to await written orders, and 
these were not sent out till 9 a.m. Now Napoleon 
had decided to operate by two wings; he entrusted 



the left to Ney, the right to Grouchy, and meant to 
accompany the latter himself. Ney was to fall upon 
whatever force he found in front of him, overwhelm 
and continue his march on Brussels. . Grouchy, 
under the Emperor s own guidance, was to act against 
the Prussians, who were to be sharply attacked, at 
Sombreffe if there encountered ; if they had retired 
to Gembloux, they were to be followed and still 
attacked. After he had disposed of the Prussians, 
Napoleon proposed to join Ney with all available 
forces and deal next with Wellington. 

The battle of Ligny, fought on the afternoon of 
the 1 6th, has been considered one of Napoleon's 
best ; never had he been more skilful, more cautious, 
and yet more bold. It took place too late in the 
day, however, and supremely decisive results were 
lost through the misadventure with D'Erlons corps. 
This corps belonged to Ney s command, but was 
diverted in its march to join him by an order to 
co-operate with the Emperor. Yet he came on the 
ground at Ligny without being looked for, and 
doubts whether he were friend or foe delayed 
Napoleon's great attack. Then when his aid was 
most needed he disappeared from the field, recalled 
unwittingly by Ney. It was D'Erlon's sad fate to 
have been useless that day to both Napoleon and 
Ney ; he only served Wellington, who but for his 


absence at Quatre Bras might easily have been 
overpowered. Ligny was a victory to the French, 
but although it robbed Blucher of a third of his 
strength and forced him to retreat, Napoleon was 
disappointed, for he had the battle in his hand 
quite early in the day, and thought with Ney s co- 
operation to annihilate and wipe out the Prussians. 
Blucher was able, too, to retreat in good order, con- 
cealing his direction from the French, and he now 
made for Wavre, having generously resolved to 
surrender his line of communications with his base, 
in order to regain ** touch " with his ally. 

Wellington had promised to support the Prus- 
sians, but only on condition that he was not him- 
self attacked. He had ridden over, on his arrival at 
Quatre Bras, to confer with Blucher, and he agreed 
then to act upon the French flank or as a reserve. 
But on his return, Ney, who had been hitherto 
motionless, came on with great vigour. By this 
time Picton with the 5th Division was near at hand, 
and a stubborn resistance met the French. It was 
a fierce action, gallantly fought on both sides, but vic- 
tory remained with the indomitable British infantry, 
recruits mostly, whose squares bravely riesisted the 
most determined charges of the French cavalry. 

x'jth June. There had been no news of Blucher 
the previous evening, nor again this morning until 



the day was well advanced. Wellington had his mis- 
givings of the result of the action ; for on visiting 
the Prussian position at Ligny before the battle, he 
expressed his strong disapproval of it. His keen mili- 
tary eye soon saw its defects : the Prussian columns 
were dotted all along the slope of a hill, so that 
no cannon ball could miss its effect upon them, and, 
as he told Sir Henry Hardinge, he fully expected 
them to be ** damnably mauled." He used the same' 
forcible language when conversing upon the day's 
events with Captain Bowles, who was with his 
company in advance at Quatre Bras. While they 
talked, Bowles tells us,^ a staff-officer came up and 
whispered something in Wellington s ear, who, with- 
out the least change of countenance, gave him some 
orders and dismissed him. Then the Duke turned 
to. Bowles and said quietly : /' Old Blucher has had 

a d d good licking, and gone back to Wavre, 

eighteen miles. As he has gone back, we must 
go back too. I suppose in England they will say 
we have been licked. I can't help it : as they have 
gone back, we must go back too." ** He made all 
the arrangements for retiring, without moving from 
the spot where he was standing, and it certainly did 
not occupy him five minutes." 

Napoleon was again slow to move after Ligny. 

^ In a letter to a friend. 


He was no doubt badly served by Ney, who, chaf- 
ing at the interference with D'Erlon, one of his 
corps commanders, had made no report, as was 
clearly his bounden duty, of his check at Quatre 
Bras. Napoleon had to call for the information, 
and about midday he sent Ney orders to renew 
his attack and drive the English out of Quatre 
Bras. At the same time he gave Grouchy orders 
to pursue the retreating Prussians and find out 
exactly what they meant to do. Had this order 
been punctually and promptly obeyed, the changed 
line of retreat from Namur to Wavre, with its 
manifest object, would have been known to Napo- 
leon, and of course to Grouchy, in time to alter 
events. The mere suspicion of Blucher s rapproche- 
ment to Wellington would have roused Grouchy 
into a strenuous effort to intercept him. 

Ney moved forward at i p.m., but long before 
the French columns were in movement Wellington 
was far on his way to Waterloo. He had been cau- 
tiously withdrawing his force all the morning, and, 
covered by Altens division, the British retreated, 
in excellent order. When Napoleon came up, 
about I P.M., he blamed Ney bitterly for his supine- 
ness, and launched Reille s cavalry in pursuit of the 
English ; but the utmost activity of horse and guns, 
under the eye of the Emperor, could bring no 


more than one sharp encounter, at Genappe, before 
Wellington reached Waterloo. Here, or more 
exactly at Mont St. Jean, he turned, resolved to 
give battle in the position he had already selected 
and had surveyed for the purpose. Some mili- 
tary critics, Napoleon chief among them, condemn 
Wellingtons decision. His proper course, they 
maintain, was to have continued his retreat through 
the forest of Soignies, and so gained time ; time in 
which Blucher could certainly have joined him with 
his whole army in front of Brussels, in which large 
English reinforcements could reach him from the 
seaboard ; time which would have made Napoleon's 
position more and more precarious, with a forest in- 
tervening between and an enemy twice his strength, 
and' fresh enemies in almost countless numbers 
closing in on his rear. Clausewitz, a writer of the 
highest authority, however, defends Wellington's 
action on the grounds that Wavre was but ten 
miles distant from Waterloo, and that Blucher had 
promised to come with all his army to Waterloo. 

That Wellington risked much in fighting with 
inferior forces, part of whom were probably dis- 
affected, cannot be denied. But he was prepared 
to face the risks. A battle was necessary ; the 
campaign could only thus be brought to a decisive 
issue, and there would be none if he fell back from 


Waterloo. Besides, it is now absolutely certain 
that Wellington stood his ground having the fullest 
and clearest assurance of Bluchers support. He 
had made this a condition, indeed, of his halt at 
Waterloo. The general impression is that the 
assurance above mentioned was not given till mid- 
night on the 17th, and that the official despatch 
embodying it only reached Wellington on the 
morning of the battle. Yet he counted upon it, 
and for other reasons. No doubt, in the first 
instance he took up his ground without it, and 
on no one momentous occasion of his eventful 
life did he show greater courage and self-reliance 
than in thus facing round. Now, an old story has 
been revived that Wellington rode over in person 
to Wavre on the night of the 17th and got the 
promise of Prussian support from Blucher's own 
lips. The story has lately been investigated by 
a writer of authority,^ and appears to rest upon 
plausible evidence. True, Lord Ellesmere, in 
1847, denies it, and is supposed to have been in- 
spired by the Duke himself On the other hand, 
two trustworthy witnesses relate it with great cir- 
cumstantiality, on the Duke's authority. One is 
Mr. Charles Mayne Young, the other a son of 
Mr. Justice Coltman. The first heard it from 

' General F. Maurice, R.A., United Service Magazine^ Sept. 1890. 


Mr. Pierrepoint, who had just returned from a visit 
to the Duke at Strathfieldsaye ; the other from his 
father, who had also just come from Strathfieldsaye. 
The details are identical, although neither had seen 
the other's account. 

It appears to have arisen out of an inquiry for 
the famous charger Copenhagen, which had been 
dead some years.^ The Duke then proceeded to 
give an instance of the horses quality. ** There 
may have been many faster horses, no doubt many 
handsomer," said the Duke, **but for bottom and 
endurance I never saw his fellow." He had ridden 
him since lo a.m. on the 17th, and in the evening 
— excellent horse-master as he was — he had seen 
him stabled and fed. Later that evening he had 
him re-saddled for a secret expedition he had in 
mind, and on which he rode with no companion 
but his orderly. He had invented some pretext 
for getting his secretary (Lord Fitz Roy Somerset) 
out of the way, and had eluded all his aides-de- 
camp. The Duke gave as his reason for this 
secrecy, that had his intention been known to his 
staff they would have tried to dissuade him from 
his rather hazardous adventure. So he rode the 
twelve miles to Wavre in the dark dead night, and 

' ** Half the fine ladies ot my acquaintance," said the Duke, ** upon this 
occasion have got bracelets or lockets miide from his mane or tail." 


face to face with our chief difficulty in regard to 
the whole of this extraordinary story. It is indeed 
impossible to believe that Wellington — the man 
upon whom was laid so terrible a responsibility, 
who was so fully and rightly conscious that he 
alone could direct the coming fight with reasonable 
hope of success — would run the risk of this long 
and perilous midnight ride. It is no answer to say 
that he was a splendid and untiring horseman ; that 
he made nothing of such journeys in the Peninsula ; 
that this strong, self-reliant, vigorous soldier thought 
only of satisfying himself on a most momentous 
point on the eve of a desperate struggle. All 
that he might have felt, but he could never surely 
forget that he was too valuable to the cause, too 
precious to wander off even in search of this vital 
assurance. H e had a dozen agents, confidential and 
completely trustworthy, whom he could despatch to 
Blucher. On the whole — even laying Wellington's 
denial on one side (for with age his memory became 
defective), and after giving due weight to the evi- 
dence, which, although striking and plausible, is not 
direct, but based only on the hearsay of the witnesses 
— the story must be disbelieved. It is unquestion- 
able that, if really true, it must have come out much 
sooner, and in a much more definite way. There 
was no earthly reason for secrecy after the event ; 


certainly not on the part of the Prussians, some of 
whom must undoubtedly have heard the fact from 
Blucher — yet in none of the German records is there 
the slightest reference to it. Ingenious as are the 
arguments adduced, those to the contrary, as wdl 
as the negative arguments, are to most minds over- 
whelming;^ not the least strong among the latter 
being the absence of any reference to the ride 
in Lord Stanhope's conversations with the Duke. 
An incident of the kind would surely have been 
approfondi by that most Boswellian of modern 
reporters, who pursued Wellington (much to his 
discomfiture) everywhere note-book in hand. 

^ Lord Wobeley, with whom I have often discussed this question, and at 
great length, is unhesitatingly against the story. Yet he gave me two new, 
and to some extent interesting, facts regarding it. The first, that he was 
offered by a clergyman in Ireland a fac-simile letter written by the aide- 
de-camp who accompanied the Duke in his ride ; but the letter was never 
really produced, while, as will be seen in the text, it is an int^pral part of 
the story that no one went with Wellington except his orderly. This also 
seems to dispose of another assertion, that Lord Bathurst rode with Wel- 
lington to Wavre. He had dined with the Duke, and it is said they started 
together, probably by sundown, some one lending Lord Bathurst a cloak, 
which a recent correspondent of a military paper declares is still treasured 
by the family as a relic of the great day. 

The second fact would be of the utmost importance if quite clearly sub- 
stantiated. One of Lord Wolseley*s aides-de-camp in Ireland was Captain the 
Hon. Richard Somerset, grandson of Lord Raglan, whose sisters (Captain 
Somerset's grand-aunts) were still alive at the time the story of the Wavre 
ride was revived. On reference to these ladies they expressed the utmost 
astonishment that there should be any doubt on the subject. Their brother. 
Lord Fitz Roy Somerset, always firmly believed in the visit to Blucher. It is 
very possible, however, that the Ladies Somerset were talking of the visit 
paid before Ligny, during the i6th June. 



Wellington relies on Blucher — Grouchy's misdirection — Napoleon's 
confidence — " Ces Anglais ! Enfin je les tiens " — Wellington's position 
— Napoleon's plan of attack — He takes a fixed post — Wellington 
moves everywhere — The five phases of the battle — Reille attacks 
Hougoumont — Ney's attack of centre and left — Ne/s renewed attack 
on centre — The cavalry attack — Attack by Imperial Guard — Pressure 
of Prussian advance severely felt — ^The last attack repulsed — Defeat 
all along the line — Wellington's general good fortune. 

WELLINGTON, then, awaited the French 
onslaught at Waterloo with calm forti- 
tude. He knew that he could count 
upon Blucher, that Blucher would keep his promise, 
and he hoped to be able to hold out until that 
promise was fulfilled. The co-operation of the 
Prussians was not a rescue (as some have pre- 
tended), a happy chance without which defeat was 
inevitable, but a planned and concerted movement 
without which Wellington would not have fought 
at all. Napoleon, on the other hand, never seems 
to have anticipated this combined action of the 
allies. Had this been so, he must have drawn 
Grouchy to him by earlier and more definite orders, 



and he would not have delayed his attack at 
Waterloo until nearly noon. Of Grouchy s mis- 
takes and misconceptions, his neglect whether to 
intercept the advancing Prussians or to manoeuvre 
towards Napoleon, to work towards the guns, it 
is unnecessary to speak here. History now un- 
hesitatingly condemns him as a proximate if not 
a chief cause of the Emperor s overthrow. 

The mere fact that Wellington stood firm might 
have warned Napoleon that Blucher was coming. 
He cannot have realised it or he would undoubtedly 
have begun the battle sooner, say between eight 
and nine in the morning, when the rain had ceased. 
With these three hours in hand he would have 
forestalled Blucher's march ; the crisis of the battle 
would have arrived so much earlier, Wellington 
might have been beaten before the Prussians made 
themselves felt upon the left flank. But Napoleon 
was in no hurry. He was too full of confidence, 
too sanguine of victory. He was so sure of having 
only the Anglo- Dutch army to fight, that he de- 
liberately postponed attacking it until he could do 
so in the most approved style.* His only fear 
was lest his enemy should have decamped, and 
dreading this, was up and on the move during the 
night ; but the bivouac fires reassured him, and he 

^ Rope's *' Campaign of Waterloo,'' p. 294. 


found by daylight that the English were still there. 
** I never was so pleased," he said afterwards at 
St. Helena, ** as when I saw Wellington intended 
to fight. ... I had not a doubt of annihilating 
his army . . . when I found he gave me battle 
singly. I felt confident of his destruction." That 
morning at breakfast the Emperor said to several 
general officers present: "The enemy's army is 
superior in numbers to ours by about a fourth ; 
nevertheless we have at least ninety chances in 
our favour and not ten against us." Then they 
burst in with the news that Wellington was "not 
simple enough to wait, that his columns were in full 
retreat." "You are mistaken," replied Napoleon, 
"he is no longer in time ; he would expose himself 
to certain destruction ; the dice have been thrown, 
and the chances are in our favour." Now General 
Foy, who had seen many hotly contested fields in 
the Peninsula, ventured to protest with, "Sire, les 
Anglais en duel c'est le diable," and was silenced 
angrily. What was uppermost in Napoleon s mind 
at that early hour survived to a later ; he was still 
confident when Soult urged that it was useless to 
try to break the English squares with cavalry, 
and he answered rudely, "Vous croyez Welling- 
ton grand homme parce qu'il vous a toujours 


As the certainty of conflict approaching was 
clearly seen, Napoleon desired his troops to break- 
fast and clean their pieces, and dictated the orders 
which brought the army into line. He had time 
in plenty to spare, as he thought, and he decided 
that his forces should march into their positions sur- 
rounded with all the pomp and circumstance of war. 
Column followed column, and squadron squadron, 
with drums beating and colours flying — a truly 
magnificent spectacle. ** The earth seemed proud,*' 
he boasted, "to bear so many brave men." By 10 
A.M. his dispositions were completed. His army was 
drawn up in battle array upon a series of gentle 
slopes trending northward ; his right at Frischer- 
mont, his centre at Belle-Alliance, his left upon the 
Nivelles- Lou vain road. D'Erlon and Reille were 
in the front line, their infantry in two lines sup- 
ported by the corps cavalry in three lines on each 
flank. Lobau's corps was on the left of Belle- 
Alliance, in rear of the centre ; behind Lobau was 
the Imperial Guard. Kellermann's and Guyots 
cavalry supported Reille ; Milhaud s and Lefebvre- 
Desnouettes* supported D'Erlon. 

And now Napoleon, amid enthusiastic greetings, 
rode slowly along his lines, passing every unit 
in review. Full of elation at the triumph he 
so confidently expected, he is reported to have 


stretched forth towards his opponents and cried, 
*' Ces Anglais ! Enfin je les tiens ! " 

Meanwhile ces Anglais^ with their friends and 
allies, had been still earlier afoot. Wellington, on 
" Copenhagen," was on the move soon after daylight, 
riding hither and thither through the length and 
breadth of his army. His position was astride of 
the great highway to Brussels (which nearly bisected 
it), upon a ridge of low hills running east and west, 
with a long slope to the southward towards the 
French. The summit of the ridge throughout its 
length was a narrow plateau traversed from end 
to end by the road to Wavre. On the right the 
hills bulged rather forward, then curved inwards 
slightly to the centre, and again advanced a little 
on the left. Three salient outposts or advanced 
points added greatly to the strength of the posi- 
tion : on the right were the chateau, farm, and 
orchards of Hougoumont, in the centre the farm 
of La Haye Sainte ; on the left was a clump of 
homesteads about Papelotte and La Haye. The 
whole formed a compact and advantageous posi- 
tion, having, says Hooper, **a slope in front offering 
an obstacle to an assailant, a slope in rear conceal- 
ing the strength and disposition of an army from 
his view, and free and complete means of com- 
munication with every part." 


While the French were moving noisily into their 
places, the allies fell into line quietly and with but 
little show. The Guards were on the right of the 
first line above Hougoumont ; somewhat to their right 
rear was Mitchell's brigade, a part of the 2nd corps 
which under Lord Hill occupied Braine TAUeud and 
protected that right flank for which Wellington was 
so solicitous up to the last. Next to the Guards 
came Alten's division, the left of which rested on 
the Brussels road. On the right of it was Picton s 
division, with Bylandt's brigade of Dutch Belgians 
deployed in front. The extreme left was filled up 
by Vandeleur and Vivian's brigade of light cavalry. 
The remaining five brigades of cavalry, includ- 
ing the Household Brigade under Lord Edward 
Somerset and the Union Brigade under Sir William 
Ponsonby, was formed in a second line. Behind 
both lines were the reserves, all save Lambert s 
brigade and some Dutch cavalry west of the 
Nivelles road. They consisted of the 2nd or 
Clinton's division, the German legion, Hanoverians, 
and Adams' British brigade. Beyond them were 
the Brunswickers, beyond these Chassis Dutch 
Belgians, reaching a hand towards Colville, who 
with his division was kept far off to the right 
at Hal and Tubize. Part of the artillery was 
posted along the ridge — thirty guns to the right, 



twenty-six to the left of the Charleroi road ; the 
rest were in reserve. In the most advanced front 
Hougoumont was held by a mixed detachment 
of Nassauers, Brunswickers, and the light com- 
panies of Maitland s brigade of Guards ; a weak 
battalion of Germans occupied La Haye Sainte, 
and Perpoucher's division was posted in La Haye 
and the hamlets around. 

Wellington s chief strength, it will be perceived, 
lay to his right ; he feared most for this flank from 
first to last. His centre and left were weaker, no 
doubt, because he expected reinforcements on this 
side from Blucher's rapidly advancing columns. It 
was to Napoleons advantage that his adversary 
looked for attack on his right — a potent reason for 
attacking elsewhere. There were others. Suc- 
cess upon the English right would have driven 
Wellington upon Blucher across the high-road to 
Brussels. Success in the centre and left would 
have forced the allies more and more widely apart, 
and Wellington must have retired towards the sea, 
leaving the approaches to the capital open and 
exposed. Hence Napoleon decided for the latter 
course. He decided to throw the whole weight 
of D'Erlon's corps upon the English centre and 
left, preluding his advance by a fierce attack on 
Hougoumont to divert Wellington's attention to 


that side. Having thus matured his plan, Napoleon 
took up his position on a knoll named Rossomme, 
situated on the main road a mile or so to the rear 
of La Belle Alliance. Wellington had no fixed 
post during the action. He rode from point to 
point wherever and whenever his presence seemed 
most required, freely exposing himself, and running 
repeated risks. 

There were five principal phases or episodes in 
the battle of Waterloo, and we shall best follow 
the course of events upon this hard-fought day by 
briefly describing each as it came on. In all five 
the French acted on the offensive. The first was 
the attack on Hougoumont ; the second, an attack 
on centre and left ; the third, Ney s renewed attack 
on the centre ; the fourth, the great cavalry effort ; 
the fifth and last, the grand but disastrous advance 
of the Imperial Guard. 

I. Reille was entrusted with the assault of 
Hougoumont. The first gun was fired at twenty 
minutes past eleven. "There it goes !" said an old 
Peninsular veteran to a comrade, as he took out 
his watch and noted the opening of the ball. The 
French columns — Jeromes division — came on with 
great resolution, but made little impression. Foy s 
division followed, and the gallant garrison were 
compelled to fall back upon the main buildings 


with their loopholed walls. Then by successive 
outflanking movements the French skirmishers 
gained the orchards, and almost made good their 
entrance to the chateau and farm. . But Welling- 
ton, who watched the struggle closely, sent aid 
in small but effective detachments just where 
required. Gradually the French drew off, having 
suffered severely. The diversion had altogether 
failed to induce Wellington to draw off troops from 
his centre for the reinforcement of the point so 
seriously assailed on the right. It was about this 
time that the Prussians began to show themselves 
upon the heights of St. Lambert, far away to the 
east. Napoleon was long in doubt whether these 
distant troops were friends or foes. Presently inter- 
cepted despatches revealed the startling fact that 
this was the advanced guard of Bulow's corps. 
Napoleon saw his danger, and called on Grouchy 
for immediate help. That general was directed, in 
a letter which did not reach him till far too late 
in the evening, to intercept the Prussians and 
manoeuvre towards Napoleon at once. At the 
same time Lobau's corps, hitherto held in reserve 
behind La Belle Alliance, was sent out to cover 
the right flank of the French position. 

2. Meanwhile Ney, ** bravest of the brave," 
Napoleon's most intrepid lieutenant, had been 



organising the second or main attack, to the east- 
ward of the Charleroi road. D'Erlon's corps was 
formed in columns of attack behind a grand battery 
of guns. Under cover of their fire the French 
advanced. Picton held this part of the ridge with 
the brigades of Kempt and Pack both deployed in 
line, their numbers some three thousand, but all 
somewhat withdrawn, and n>ore or less concealed 
from view amongst the tall crops hereabouts heavy 
in the ear. Donzelet's brigade, attacking La Haye 
Sainte and the ridge above, had almost made good 
its footing on the plateau when Picton brought 
Kempt's men up at a run. A sharp conflict 
ensued ; the British bayonet did its work, and the 
French were driven, backward down the slope, but 
not before they had inflicted serious loss. The 
gallant English general, Sir Thomas Picton, was 
amongst those who fell, shot right through the 
head. Farther to the right of Donzelet the French 
brigades of Quiot and Marcognet had also achieved 
a temporary success. But they suffered severely 
at the hands of a part of Pack s brigade ; and now 
the cavalry supports of this part of the line came 
into action under Wellington's personal instructions, 
with tremendous effect. Sir William Ponsonby, 
with the Union Brigade, the Royal Dragoons, the 
Inniskillings, and the Scots Greys, came up at a 


gallop, and charging home, carried everything before 
him. Another cavalry combat was occurring on 
the other side of the road ; for they had brought up 
a strong body of Cuirassiers to support Donzelet's 
attack, and Lord Uxbridge had launched the 
Household Brigade against them. The British 
heavy cavalry overbore the French, and the whole 
sweeping into the valley, joined with those pursuing 
the discomfited French infantry in filling the whole 
space with a confused and struggling mass of fight- 
ing men. During this period the work was almost 
all hand to hand. Innumerable single combats 
occurred, and here Shaw, the famous Life Guards- 
man, after displaying tremendous prowess, lost his 
life. Presently bodies of fresh French cavalry were 
brought up to make head against our impetuous 
dragoons. These in their turn were driven back, 
and under cover of this success the crushed and 
shattered columns of D'Erlon's discomfited corps 
were withdrawn to re-form. The second attack, 
like the first, had signally failed. 

3. The third episode was a fresh advance, and 
a still more resolute attempt to pierce the British 
centre. It was to be carried out in concert with 
Pir6, whose light cavalry was to menace the 
extreme right on the Nivelles road ; and the attack 
upon Hougoumont, seconded now by artillery, was 


to be renewed. Both sides now drew upon their 
reserves. The Imperial Guard was brought up to 
fill the gap left by Lobau, who was by this time in 
battle order on the right rear ; Wellington also 
closed in his left, and strengthened it by placing 
Lambert's brigade behind Kempt s. The principal 
effort of the French was now directed to La Haye 
Sainte, which Donzelet and Quiot's brigade once 
more attacked with * persistent courage. They 
gained their point at last, and this great advantage 
to the French was the critical moment of the day. 
Had Ney been strong in fresh and untouched 
infantry to improve the occasion, the fate of the 
day might have been changed. Napoleon himself 
was unwilling as yet to use up his corps cPdlite, 
the renowned Imperial Guard. He was satisfied, 
therefore, to follow up the capture of La Haye 
Sainte by a grand attack of cavalry alone. 

4. The corps of Milhaud and Lefebvre-Des- 
nouettes, supported by the light cavalry of the 
Guard, were for the purpose ; a splendid body of 
horse, cuirassiers, lancers, and chasseurs, five thou- 
sand strong, filling all the space between Hougou- 
mont and the Charleroi road. Ney led them to 
the front. The British infantry formed square to 
receive them — ^small compact bodies so resolute 
and firm that the cavalry could make absolutely 


no impression. The withering cross fire of these 
"living fortresses" emptied the horsemen's saddles, 
shaking the squadrons to pieces, and stoutly defy- 
ing attack. Ney's fierce valour rose always with 
disaster. Twice foiled, a third time he led the 
Frenchmen on, only to fail again. He called up 
fresh supports — Guyot s brigade of grenadiers, the 
dragoons of the Guard ; Napoleon sent forward 
Kellermann's corps, four or five thousand fresh 
sabres, to his aid. The whole of the French 
cavalry (Pir6 only excepted), the corps of Milhaud 
(that is to say, Desnouettes, Kellermann, Guyot, 
Jacquinot, Sobervie, Domont) were now hotly en- 
gaged. It was a supreme effort, as heroically 
executed as it was boldly conceived, **No scene 
like it," says Hooper, **is recorded in the annals 
of war. . . . They (the French horsemen) behaved 
with conspicuous bravery, but although they charged 
at the squares, approached, cut at the bayonets 
with their sabres, and thrust at the front files with 
their lances, it is recorded that they did not in any 
case charge home. The squares beat them off, 
slew them, killed their horses, and threw them 
again into confusion." The struggle lasted for 
nearly an hour, and then the French cavalry fell 
back discomfited and repulsed at every point. 

5. It was now past 5 p.m. Three more hours 


of daylight remained, and there was still time to 
organise fresh efforts. Both sides were severely 
shaken, but full of fighting still Ney, eager to 
go again to the front, sent to his chief for more 
infantry to renew the attack. " De Tinfanterie," 
angrily replied Napoleon to Ney's messenger, "ou 
voulez-vous que j'en prenne ? Voulez-vous que j'en 
fasse ? " The fact was that he began to seriously 
feel the pressure of the advancing Prussians. 
Blucher himself had come up to take command 
of Bulow's corps, and was forcing Lobau to retire. 
Napoleon was becoming anxious lest his right flank 
and rear should be compromised. It was neces- 
sary to reinforce Lobau with strong detachments ; 
Duchesne, therefore, with the young Guard, joined 
him, and three battalions of the old Guard and 
several g^ns. These sufficed for the moment to 
beat back the Prussians, and Napoleon, who still 
thought he had to do only with Bulow's corps and 
not with three-fourths of the Prussian army, turned 
his attention once more to the front. He was 
resolved to use all the means at his disposal in 
one grand and final effort to crush his obstinate 
foe. He had his last reserve, the Imperial Guard ; 
on what could Wellington rely? Wellington had 
reserves too, but he counted still more upon the 
promised co-operation of the Prussians, who must 


at this time be close at hand. As we have seen, 
Bulow had already arrived, and the whole indeed 
would have been up much earlier in the day but 
for the conflagration in the town of Wavre, which 
checked the march of Blucher's columns. Napoleon 
in person superintended the arrangements for the 
last attack. He harangued the Imperial Guard, 
and rode with them a little way out before entrust- 
ing the leadership to Ney. 

They were formed in two columns of only four 
battalions each,' as twelve were facing the Prussians. 
The right column moved a little ahead of the left ; 
the direction of both was against the British right 
centre. Already the battle had been renewed along 
the whole line. Divisions and brigades once more 
assailed positions they had previously attacked in 
vain ; there was a hot artillery fire from g^ns 
pushed well to the front, and the cavalry was close 
at hand to follow up any advantage gained. On 
the English side, Wellington, feeling easy for his 
left, which the Prussians assured, had drawn the 
best part of his strength towards his right. He 
brought up Chass6's division and the Brunswick 
battalions, which fell into line between Halkett and 
Kielmansegge, while Vivian and Vandeleur with 
their cavalry brigades formed up behind in second 
line. The same garrison held Hougoumont, backed 

"UP, GUARDS!" 203 

by detachments of guards and three English regi- 
ments. Upon the interior slope Maitland s guards 
were held intact and unseen, so was the light 
infantry brigade which prolonged the line on their 
right. Much sharp fighting ensued before the 
great and final attack was delivered. The right 
column of the Imperial Guard was still leading, and 
bore directly upon the point behind which the 
English Guards were concealed. Swept and torn 
by artillery fire, losing many of its generals — Ney 
dismounted, but still leading on foot — the column 
pressed gallantly on. Just as they crowned the 
ridge the Duke cried to Maitland's men, ** Up, 
Guards, and make ready ! " The effect was elec- 
trical. The French Guards were altogether taken 
aback. They could not deploy ; every shot from 
this wide front of fire told direfuUy upon the dense 
column ; and when it wavered, as it soon did, 
Wellington gave the order to charge. The French 
could not withstand the onslaught, and almost im- 
mediately broke and fell away. For a time it fared 
better with the second or left column, which, un- 
dismayed by the overthrow of the first, continued 
to press forward. This had now to deal with 
Maitland's brigade, and bravely it kept on its way, 
when Colborne with the 52 nd, happily inspired by 
a stroke of genius, wheeled his line to the left, and 


poured in such a murderous fire that the French 
column was reduced to an "unsteady crowd." 
Then the 52nd, supported by the 71st and 95th, 
charged nobly, and the second column of the Guard 
was also overthrown. From this moment the issue 
of the battle was no longer in doubt. The failure 
and retreat of the Imperial Guard ruined the 
chances of the French attack on every side. They 
withdrew from all parts, hotly pressed, especially 
by the light troops and the cavalry. Napoleon, 
who had been active in these last encounters, 
rallied the Guard on the west of Belle-Alliance, 
but on the approach of the advancing British they 
again retired. There was a struggle between the 
English and French cavalry, in which the latter 
were worsted and joined in the general rout. The 
French about Planchenoit long showed a firm 
front, but they were presently outflanked and out- 
numbered by the Prussians, and also took flight. 
The French army was now en pleine diroute. 
Napoleon's single line of retreat was crowded, 
''blocked up by the wreck of the baggage, and 
a struggling, terrified, shouting mob, the wreck of 
that splendid host he had marshalled so arrogantly 
in the morning." For the Emperor all was lost. 
He was at Charleroi next day at dawn, and three 
days later in Paris. 





Wellington and Napoleon compared — The so-called "surprise** — 
Result of Grouch/s absence from the field — Wellington as a tactical 
leader — Waterloo " hard pounding " — A battle of giants — Luck. 

THERE can be no doubt," says Shaw 
Kennedy, '*that so long as history is read, 
the battle of Waterloo will be much and 
eagerly discussed ; " that so long as the art of war 
is studied, the great features of Waterloo and its 
most important details will interest and occupy 
military men. The greatest commander has been 
well defined as he who makes fewest mistakes. 
Napoleon and Wellington both erred in the cam- 
paign and battle of Waterloo, but they should 
be compared by their merits, not their defects. 
Napoleon's strategy was no doubt superior to 
Wellington's, his general views were more correct 
and sound ; but Wellington was better in execution. 
** The blunders and looseness of Napoleon's move- 
ments on the 1 6th, 17th, and i8th June were sur- 
passingly great and numerous ; while Wellington 



acted with unerring energy, firmness, and pre- 
cision."^ Wellington, again, was more active at 
the battle ; he personally and more largely con- 
trolled its tactics. Wherever he was most wanted, 
at any critical moment, on any decisive point, Wel- 
lington appeared to judge for himself and deal most 
effectively with the situation. Napoleon trusted 
to his staff; he remained chiefly on one spot, and 
there awaited the reports of others before he gave 
his orders to meet the constantly changing aspects 
of the fight. 

Although Napoleon did not actually surprise the 
allies* in the initial movement, the early honours 

^ Shaw Kennedy, p. 176. 

^ When the Duke of Wellington was sitting for his portrait to Pickersgill, 
the painter asked him if it was true that he was surprised at the outset of the 
Waterloo campaign. '* I was never surprised till this moment," replied his 

This story of the *' surprise " seems to have originated with a great per- 
sonage, no other than His Royal Highness the Duke of York, whose hostility 
to Wellington amounted to malevolence, and is supposed to have grown out 
of personal resentment that Wellington was preferred before him in the 
command of the army in the Peninsula. The pretension was preposterous, 
of course, for the Duke of York's qualification as a general was absolutely 
contemptible, yet it was advanced ; and his disappointment explains much 
of the pettiness exhibited to the great soldier he would have superseded. 
Greville in his Memoirs (June 24, 1821) tells us in so many words that '*the 
Duke of York's prejudice against Wellington is exceedingly strong. He does 
not deny his military talents, but thinks that he is false and ungrateful, that 
he never gave sufficient credit to his officers, and that he was unwilling to put 
forward men of talent who might be in a situation to claim some show of 
credit, the whole of which he was desirous of engrossing himself. He says 
that at Waterloo he got into a scrape, and allowed himself to be surprised, 
and he attributes in a great measure the success of that day to Lord Angleseo, 


of the campaign were undoubtedly his. On the 
1 6th June he had already reaped the full benefit 
of his strategy, and the game for a time seemed 
quite within his hands. His crowning error fol- 
lowed quickly on his first success ; and that was 
in not falling upon Wellington with his whole 
strength directly after Ligny. He was wrong in 
detaching Grouchy, even if right in principle, as 
he afterwards claimed, on the ground that Blucher 
when re-formed could have cut into his communi- 
cations ; for with Grouchy he would have greatly 
outnumbered the Anglo-Dutch, and if he could 
beat them he need have no more fear of Blucher. 
He should have led against them "every man and 
every horse, even if the risk had been great in the 
highest degree, which ... it clearly was not."* 
That Grouchy disappointed him, that if his tardy 
lieutenant had manoeuvred towards the sound of 
guns Waterloo might still have been saved, does 
not alter the assertion that the original error was 
Napoleon s own. 

who, he says, was hardly mentioned, and that in the coldest terms, by the 
Duke's despatch." 

The suggestion that Lord Uxbridge won the battle is delicious, and 
almost parallels the pretension advanced in late years by George IV. that 
he was at Waterloo. *' I have often heard your Majesty say so," was the 
Duke's evasive reply when appealed to in confirmation of this amusing 

^ Shaw Kennedy. 


Wellington's chief strategical error, that of cling- 
ing too tenaciously to his right flank, has been com- 
mented upon already. He was wrong also in 
agreeing with Blucher to meet Napoleon so far to 
the front at Fleurus and Quatre Bras, at points 
where their own concentration could only take place 
later than that of the enemy who threatened them. 
On the tactical field he was most to blame for his 
neglect to hold on at all costs to La Haye Sainte,^ 
the outpost in front of his left centre, the import- 
ance of which Napoleon clearly saw, and which 
did pass at one time into the hands of the French. 
This was the supreme moment of the battle, and 
never perhaps did Wellington show to greater 
advantage as a tactical leader than in his quiet 
self-possessed treatment of this dangerous emer- 
gency. The danger was imminent : La Haye 
Sainte was lost ; there was a gap in the line ; 
it was open between Halketts* Hanoverians 
and Kempt's brigade on the left or east side of 
the great Nivelles-Brussels road. Shaw Kennedy 
took this startling news to the Duke, who received 
it with the most perfect coolness, and replied with 
great firmness and precision. ** I shall order up the 

. ^ See ante, p. 164. That La Haye Sainte was not strengthened and occu- 
pied with sufEcient garrison was the fault of the English staff, but Wellington 
always accepted the blame. 

^ He had been brought from the right an hour before. 


Brunswickers and other troops. Go you," he said 
to Shaw Kennedy, **and get all the German troops 
you can to the spot, and all the guns you can find." 
This was no doubt the hour of greatest peril, when 
defeat was within measurable distance ; and with 
a less self-reliant leader all would have been lost. 
But Wellington came up quickly at the head of 
the Brunswick troops ; he was soon backed by Kiel- 
mansegge and Vivian's cavalry, while the artillery 
with their fire covered the opening. The ground 
was held, the day was saved, by the man who 
** managed his reserves in a steady yet energetic 
and masterly manner, . . . who was eminent on 
this great day of trial for coolness, judgment, and 
energy in doing everything that the urgencies of 
the action required at the proper time."^ 

In his own simple and modest account of the 
action, he lays no claim to having personally con- 
trolled it or contributed to the victory. " People 
ask me to describe Waterloo," he said to Sir John 
Malcolm, in Paris, soon after the battle. ** I tell 
them it was hard pounding on both sides, and we 
pounded the hardest. There was no manoeuvring. 
Bonaparte kept up his attacks, and I was glad to 
let it be decided by the troops." There is another 
version of this account as given by Wellington to 

' Shaw Kennedy, p. 126. 


a lady of fashion : " We pummelled them and they 
pummelled us, and I suppose we pummelled the 
hardest, so we gained the day." ** It was a battle 
of giants ! " he said on another occasion. ** Many of 
my troops were new ; but the new fight well though 
they manoeuvre ill — better perhaps than many have 
fought and bled. As to the way in which some 
of our ensigns and lieutenants braved danger — 
the boys just come from school — it exceeds belief. 
They ran as at cricket. *' Again: ** Waterloo was 
won in the playing fields of Eton." 

I may be permitted here, at the close of Welling- 
ton's active service in the field, to lay some stress 
upon a point that has hardly been sufficiently 
considered when dealing with his military career. 
Wellington's good luck has never yet been re- 
cognised as an important factor in his success. I 
mention it in no disparagement of his great and 
enduring reputation. Another great soldier, his 
greatest opponent, was proud to acknowledge that 
he fought under a fortunate star ; ^ to be lucky 
is indeed of the first and last importance in the 
greatest of all games of chance. " Est-il heureux ? " 
was the first question Napoleon asked in inquiring 

' Marmont said at Fuente Guinaldo (see post, p. 214) that bright as was 
Napoleon's star, Wellington's outshone it. 


into the qualifications of his generals for command. 
Wellington was undoubtedly a lucky man, not only 
in that immunity from mishap, that continual escape 
from serious wounds, that his unhesitating personal 
exposure made constantly possible, but in the larger 
fortune that attended him in the general conduct 
of operations. 

As regards bodily and personal risks, he passed 
scatheless through many. The man who was 
nearly drowned on his second voyage to Lisbon, 
in 1809, when H.M.S. Surveillante was all but 
shipwrecked on the coast of the Isle of Wight, 
escaped serious wounds on several occasions, and 
more than once was nearly taken prisoner. The 
day before Talavera he had climbed into an old 
ruined house, leaving his horse below, when a 
rapid advance of the enemy barely gave him time 
to remount and gallop away. In the movements 
before Salamanca, a small detachment of French 
dragoons charged two of our guns, escorted by 
cavalry, with much gallantry, just as Wellington 
was passing near. The guns were limbered up and 
passing to the rear ; there was a fierce encounter, 
in which the French overthrew our dragoons and 
drove them back past Wellington, who was en- 
veloped in the m616e. The Duke was in the thick 
of it, and had a very narrow escape, being obliged 


to draw his sword and fight his way out with the 
rest of his staff. At Echalar, in 1813, when pursu- 
ing Soult's rear-guard under Clausel, Wellington rode 
to the front reconnoitring, escorted by half a com- 
pany of the 43rd. The French saw them, and sent 
a party to cut them off, which would infallibly have 
fallen upon Wellington just as he was examining 
his maps, had not a smart and intelligent sergeant, 
Blood, who was on the look-out, descried the 
enemy's approach. Blood, *'with surprising ac- 
tivity, leaping rather than running down the pre- 
cipitous rocks," gave Wellington notice ; but the 
French arrived in time to send a volley after him 
as he galloped away. At Quatre Bras he was 
nearly ridden down by Pir6's chasseurs, and only 
escaped by calling upon some of the 92nd High- 
landers, who were lining a ditch, to lie down while 
he jumped his horse over them. At Salamanca 
a bullet perforated Wellington's cloak as it lay 
folded in front of him on his saddle. At Orthez 
a round shot cut the bough of a tree just over 
his head, two bullets passed through his clothes ; 
another, in the same battle, struck him in the groin 
and knocked him from his horse. Alava, who was 
with him, thought he was killed. He had been 
laughing the moment before at an expression which 
had been explained to him, of a Spanish soldier 


who had said he was '' ofendido'' (slightly hurt), 
and now cried, as he jumped again to his feet, that 
he was only ^^ ofendido'' At Waterloo he carried 
his life in his hand, but was never touched, although 
the casualties among those about him were ter- 
rible. Colonel De Lancey, quartermaster-general, 
was mortally wounded ; so was Colonel Alexander 
Gordon. Colonel Canning was killed outright ; 
Lord Uxbridge lost his leg by Wellington's side.^ 
Lord Fitz Roy Somerset was wounded in the 
arm, which was afterwards amputated. In the 
cavalry attack upon the squares the fire was ex- 
ceedingly hot, and he was warned by Sir Colin 
Campbell, one of his staff, that it was no place for 
him, he had better move ; to which the Duke 
replied, " I will when I see those fellows off." 
Later, when Colonel Harvey protested that he 
was in great danger, Wellington replied, ** Never 
mind, let them fire away ; the battle's won, and 
my life is of no consequence now." Soon after- 
wards he was heading the pursuit, with but a single 
member of his staff left by his side. 

In larger matters his good fortune was great. 
At Assaye, as we have seen, he found the ford he 

* Every one probably knows the laconic force with which the sad news 
was imparted and received. '* Fve lost my leg, by G — d 1 " said the stricken 
man. " Have you, by G — d ? *' replied his imperturbable chief. 


sought ; but yet, if there had been none, his whole 
force must have been annihilated. At Busaco, 
Massena's jealousy of Ney postponed an imme- 
diate attack that promised enormous advantage, for 
Wellington was not yet concentrated. At Fuentes 
d'Onoro ** there was not during the whole war a 
more perilous hour." Wellington's force was divided 
by river, and in a plain through which five thousand 
French horsemen careered unchecked was a "con- 
fused concourse " of small parties, piquets, and non- 
combatants, and only the slackness of the enemy 
saved this mob from destruction. At Fuente 
Guinaldo, Wellington lay with barely fifteen thou- 
sand men for thirty-six hours within cannon-shot 
of the whole French army. Marmont s mistake at 
Salamanca was another stroke of luck for Welling- 
ton. Again, in the retreat from Burgos, by an 
audacious movement, covered by fog and rain, he 
transported his whole army around Soult's left, but 
so close to his front that, if discovered, he would 
probably have been destroyed. It was immense 
good fortune, too, that Napoleon never came to 
oppose him in Spain ; that he would have been 
worsted even then need not be taken for granted, 
but the Emperor in the heyday of his power would 
have been a far doughtier antagonist than any 
of his marshals. Last of all, luck played up 


for Wellington at Waterloo. Soult's want of skill 
as chief of staff, Ney's ignorance of the forces 
entrusted to him, his dilatoriness, the conflict- 
ing orders given to D'Erlon, Napoleon's lack 
of promptitude after Ligny, Grouchy 's mistaken 
mission and subsequent effacement, were so many 
boons and godsends contributing their quota to 
the sum total of Wellington s success. 



Wellington's great popularity after Waterloo — His continued service 
of the State — Master-General — The Chartists — Saves army from 
extinction — AVrongly blamed for Crimean disasters — His political 
career — Prime Minister — The Reform Bill — His unpopularity — Last 
occasion on which he took office. 

WELLINGTON may be said to have 
reached the zenith, he was at the very 
summit and apex of his career imme- 
diately after Waterloo. His popularity was un- 
bounded. In Paris crowds followed him wherever 
he went ; the universal excitement was extraordi- 
nary whenever he appeared ; people jostled and 
hustled each other in their frantic eagerness to see 
this great hero, **a small man, plainly dressed in a 
blue frock-coat, white neckcloth, and round hat ; " 
they almost kissed the ground at his horse's feet. 
He was all powerful in the councils of the nations, 
the arbiter of Frances fate. It was his firmness 
and moderation, his wise judgment and convincing 
logic, that saved her from spoliation and dismem- 
berment. It was well for her that England's great 



representative was predominant, and strong enough 
to resist the revengeful desires of her other 
triumphant foes. He preserved the bridge of Jena^ 
and the column of Austerlitz ; he prevented the 
cessions of territory which would have made new 
wars inevitable; he fixed Louis XVHI. on the 
throne, not as the best sovereign possible, but 
the only one likely to ensure the future peace of 
Europe. To give effect to his views, and guaran- 
tee their execution, he devised the joint army of 
occupation, which conferred strength and security 
upon the new regime, and being terminable on a 
fixed date, kept France quiet meanwhile. 

In 1818 the Duke returned to England, and 
accepted the post of Master- General of the 
Ordnance, an ancient and honourable office, that 
gave him a seat in the Cabinet as a military 
adviser. He fought no more in the field, although 
in his green old age he would have gladly accepted 
service in Afghanistan ; and in the early days of 
the Sikh war he told Sir Charles Napier, "If you 
do not go, I must." His last military operation 

^ "About blowing up the bridge of Jena, there were two parties in the 
Prussian army (Gneisenau and Muffling) against, but Blucher violently for it. 
In spite of all I could do, he did make the attempt, even while, I believe, my 
sentinel was standing at one end of the bridge. But the Prussians had no 
experience in blowing up bridges. ..." '* They made a hole in one of the 
pillars, but their powder blew out instead of up, and, I believe, hurt some of 
their own people." — Wellington to Stanhope, p. 119. 


was to concert measures for the defence of London 
against the Chartists in 1848, and his masterly 
arrangements for garrisoning the city saved it 
without the firing of a shot. He placed troops 
unseen in all commanding points, and was ready 
to act with decisive effect if the malcontents had 
risked a collision. From 1842 till his death he 
was commander-in-chief of the army, which .he 
governed in its best interests, although he intro- 
duced no new system, was quite opposed indeed 
to reforms. For the latter he has been blamed, 
and it is so far true that he was to the last degree 
conservative, satisfied with existing methods, con- 
tent to subordinate always the military to the civil 
power in the State. But while thus seeming to 
neglect it, he was defending the very existence 
of the army, threatened as it was by unspsu-ing 
economists who would have made a clean sweep of 
it, and who continually attacked the Estimates. The 
Duke s best protection was to hide it out of sight, 
in the colonies, or distributed in small detachments 
at home. ** He treated the army as a machine, to 
be taken to pieces and packed away in small pieces 
till it should be needed."^ No doubt it followed 
that the higher tactical instruction was entirely 
neglected ; there could be no practice in handling 

^ Hamley, " Wellington's Career," p. 107. 


the three arms ; the manoeuvres of any but the 
smallest bodies was impossible. 

The responsibility for the collapse of the army 
administi:ative departments in the Crimea has also 
been fixed upon the Duke of Wellington. There 
had been the same fatal defects in the Peninsular 
army at the outset, but he had conquered them 
by his own masterly power. If, however, "the 
perfected organisations by which Wellington had 
worked out his purpose were soon after destroyed 
— destroyed so completely that not even so much 
as the framework of his land transport system' 
was left to show how in future our armies might 
be moved and supplied"^ — was Wellingtons the 
blame? His splendid talents had created means 
never before existent, services that were never 
part and parcel of our army system ; *'they formed 
no part of the mechanism by which England 
managed war business at any other times," and it 
was beyond his power to give them permanent 
life. At the same time, it is more than probable 
that he would have been more urgent for their 
continuance had not the drift towards economy 
and reduction been almost irresistible. 

Although Wellington sheathed his sword, he 
did not cease to render loyal and most ungrudging 

' Kinglake. 


service to his country. He entered the arena of 
politics, and the impression prevails that, though 
a great administrator and a great statesman, he 
was not a great politician.^ He was never, and 
could never have been, a party leader ; he could not 
conduct party warfare ; he was no party man. He 
was ever "guided by large principles of duty, dis- 
interestedness, and perfect honesty," and he could 
never subordinate these to political exigencies ; he 
was first and before everything a loyal and de- 
voted servant of the Crown and the State. ** He 
was pre-eminently a great national servant, always 
intent on promoting what, according to his cool 
judgment, was best for the common weal." 

The earlier phases of his political career were 
certainly cast in troublous times. There was the 
quarrel between the king, George IV., and his 
queen, Caroline, in which the Duke spoke his mind 
to the king with noble directness.* There was 
constant effervescence on the Continent, wars and 
rumours of wars — the Greek revolt against Turkey, 

^ Hamley. 

^ There was a story current at the time of the Queen Caroline agitation 
which shows the Duke's grim humour. The mob were obliging every one 
who passed along a certain street to halt and rep>eat the words, " God bless 
Queen Caroline." The Duke*s turn came, and he at once very sensibly 
acquiesced in the demand, but as he rode away he fired a parting shot. 
*'God bless Queen Caroline," he said, quietly adding, **and may all your 
wives be like her." 


the Holy Alliance, and the desire to interfere in 
the internal affairs of Spain. At home Welling- 
ton was called to high office, and became Prime 
Minister in 1828, although he did not seek it, and 
had said the year before that he should be '* worse 
than mad to think of such a thing." He had to 
deal with some of the most momentous issues 
that have been raised in our political history. On 
the question of Catholic Emancipation he yielded 
at length, preferring to accept a measure against 
which he had really no prejudice rather than face 
a terrible civil war in Ireland. It was his con- 
cession on this point that led to his duel with Lord 
Winchelsea, who had accused him in a political 
pamphlet of being a papist in disguise. They met 
and exchanged shots on Battersea fields, but the 
Duke fired wide, and Winchelsea in the air. The 
Duke claimed satisfaction on public grounds ; it 
was his duty to fight, he said, for the duel was 
a part of the Catholic question. When to these 
calumnies were added the constant conflicts with 
the king and his brothers, the struggle with Russian 
intrigues at the British Court, the dealing with 
people he disliked or despised, we may easily 
understand his passionate outburst of regret that 
he had ever accepted office. "If I had known in 
January 1828," he wrote in November 1829, ''one 


tithe of what I do now, and of what I discovered 
one month after I was in office, I should never 
have been the kings Minister, and should have 
avoided loads of misery. I believe there never 
was a man who suffered so much and for so little 

A still greater trial was at hand. The vital 
question of Parliamentary Reform was forced into 
strong relief by the French Revolution of 1830, 
but Wellington could not see why the country 
should be dissatisfied with the state of representa- 
tion. He was fully convinced, he told the Lords, 
that the country actually possessed a legislature 
which answered all good purposes of legislation, 
and in which it had full and entire confidence. Yet 
he would have transferred seats from the corrupt 
boroughs to the great towns. His objection to 
thorough-going reform was based on his belief that 
one of the foundation-stones of the constitution 
was land ; for he could not see that " the pivot of 
power had at last begun to shift from land to trade, 
commerce, and industry, and that the claim of these 
to share in power could not be denied."^ His op- 
position to the Reform Bill was therefore unflinch- 
ing, and it gained him unmerited but widespread 
obloquy. The hero who a few years before had 

^ Hooper, 243. 


been the idol of the nation was now hooted and 
hunted by the mob ; his Apsley House, which he 
had acquired in the heyday of his glory, was attacked, 
and its windows broken ; the Duke, riding home 
from the city, was chased, and only escaped under 
the escort of two courageous barristers. He never 
forgot these outrages, and when he once more re- 
gained his popularity he would not acknowledge the 
cheers of the fickle crowd, but pointed grimly to 
the iron shutters he had put up for the protection 
of his house. 

At the worst hour, however, although he wore 
outwardly a perfectly placid and unruffled de- 
meanour, he was terribly harassed and depressed 
by his political anxieties and the demeanour of the 
House of Commons ; so much so, indeed, that he 
told Lord Stanley, "It is fortunate that I don't 
find a brace of loaded pistols by my side when 
I wake in the morning." 

In the teeth of his strenuous opposition the 
Reform Bill was passed, and effected, as he thought, 
" the greatest revolution that ever occurred without 
bloodshed in any country." He had fought it, had 
helped to defeat it, had tried to form a Ministry 
to modify it, and finally determined to absent him- 
self from the House when he saw that its passing 
could alone save the country from grave dissensions. 


A promise had been exacted by Lord Grey from 
the king, that should the Lords again defeat the 
Bill he would create a number of new peers suffi- 
cient to outvote the Opposition. Wellington would 
not allow the king s prerogative to be attacked by 
a resolution condemning this creation, nor did he 
wish to see the House swamped and discredited. 
He preferred to abandon the fight with his fol- 
lowers, and thus, as the lesser of two great evils, sur- 
rendered his personal convictions for the common 
good. ** No generous mind can study the story of 
the Reform Bill without recognising the honour- 
able and manly conduct of a statesman whose 
first and last thought was for country and not 
for himself."^ 

Only once again did the Duke take political 
office. It was on the sudden dissolution of the 
Melbourne Ministry in 1834, when Wellington 
advised the king to send for Sir Robert Peel, who 
was then travelling in Italy. Until Peel could arrive 
the Duke agreed to discharge the whole duties 
of administration. He became First Lord of the 
Treasury and Home Secretary, the latter office, 
that of the Secretary of State, enabling him to 
act in all the others. For three weeks the Duke 
of Wellington was sole and absolute dictator, **an 

* Hooper. 


expedient of doubtful and anomalous character/' 
says Sir Erskine May, but he adds that the Duke 
exercised the extraordinary powers entrusted to him 
with honour and good faith. He took all the 
responsibility and none of the patronage ; proving 
himself once again the devoted public servant, ready 
to grapple with a great emergency, ** who, suddenly 
finding the king without a government, at once 
supplied one in his own person." 

When Peel returned the Duke went to the 
Foreign Office, and he was again a member of 
the Cabinet of 1841. But he gradually passed up 
above the cares of party warfare, and, except when 
he joined Peel in repealing the Corn Laws, took no 
active part in politics save as leader of the House 
of Lords. He held no civil office, but he was the 
universal counsellor, moderating opposition, helping 
Ministers, guiding his peers, and influencing public 
opinion for the good of the crown, the constitution, 
and the country. 



Alleged hardness of nature — Yet a staunch friend to Fitz Roy Somer- 
set ; to Alexander Gordon — Severe treatment of Norman Ramsay and 
other artillery officers — Colonel Sturgeon — Said to have neglected old 
comrades — Proofs of his generosity — No sordid ideas about money — 
His charities — Story of the snuff-box ; of the ball-room at Bath — His 
indefatigable labours to the last. 

I HAVE dealt in an earlier page with the various 
features of Wellington's personal character, 
more especially as they were exhibited in the 
field, in the days of his military successes. It 
remains to complete the portraiture with some 
account of the man himself, supported by fuller 
and later evidence, and as he appeared and was 
known to his best friends. There is a tendency 
at this present time to rather dwarf his repu- 
tation. That he had weaknesses, defects ; that he 
was of a hard nature, with no deep or extensive 
sympathies, ** impervious to softer influences," un- 
feeling to the extent of ignoring natural family 
affections, unbending and implacable to those who 
offended him ; that he forgot the services of his 









o ^ 

I— < 










» ' 




» / 


f . t 

?• f 


I f 





officers, maligned the men who won his victories 
— such disagreeable traits as these have been so 
much put forward in recent years, and repeated 
with so many exaggerations, that it is to be feared 
the present estimate of Wellington by his country- 
men is below his unquestioned merits and rights. 
It will be well to close this imperfect tribute to 
his conspicuous worth with some examination of 
these charges, and of the rebutting evidence that 
may be offered after a better acquaintance with 
his finer characteristics. 

Greville is one of those who wrote Wellington 
down as a hard man, mainly because the son 
showed no ardent affection in after life for the 
mother who had neglected him in his youth. Lady 
Mornington could hardly look for great devotion 
from her son Arthur, from the ugly duckling whom 
she had despised, and who had blossomed so un- 
expectedly into fame. Nor can the Duke be 
greatly blamed for withholding his filial tender- 
ness. But it is surely incorrect to say that he 
was without heart, although Gleig may go too far 
in claiming that **no more tender heart beat in a 
human bosom." Wellington was undemonstrative, 
cold and impassive outwardly, but within he was 
very different. ** He has a short manner of speak- 
ing and a stern look that people mistake for want 


of heart ; but I have witnessed his kindness to 
others, and felt it in so many instances, and so 
strongly, that I cannot bear to hear him accused 
of wanting what I know he possesses," says one 
who was much thrown with him.^ His extreme 
fondness for children bears out this view. He 
played and romped with them, and fought again 
his battles, suffering them to bombard him with 
cushions. Two children who were staying at 
Walmer complained that others got letters every 
morning, but that the bag brought them none. 
Whereupon the Duke with his own hand wrote one 
to each daily, which were delivered with the rest. 

Undoubtedly, to his own comrades he was a 
good and staunch friend, kindly, considerate, some- 
thing more than **not inhuman," as Hamley dis- 
paragingly puts it. He rode twenty miles after a 
hard day s fighting to visit the bedside of a wounded 
aide-de-camp, the son of his dearest friends, and 
stood there affected to tears when the case seemed 
hopeless. The commander, so fully occupied with 
momentous and immense transactions, could yet 
find time to write to parents and relatives breaking 
the sad news of the death or wounds of their be- 
longings. When Lord Fitz Roy Somerset lost his 
right arm at Waterloo, his chief, with great delicacy 

» "George Napier's Life," p. i68. 



and nice feeling, replaced him temporarily with a 
one-armed man, Colonel Felton Harvey, so as to 
assure his old military secretary that he might re- 
turn when convalescent to his old post* We have 
frequent outbursts of poignant grief in Wellington s 
correspondence at the heavy penalties paid for 
success. We owe to him the pregnant apothegm, 
** Nothing is more tragical than a victory, except a 
defeat." He was deeply affected by the loss of 
Alexander Gordon at Waterloo, and wrote to Lord 
Aberdeen : " The glory resulting from such actions, 
so dearly bought, is no consolation to me." 

Dr. Hume, in whose arms Gordon expired at 
3 A.M. the morning after Waterloo, woke the Duke 
to tell him the sad news. He sat up in bed, *his 
face covered with the dust and sweat of the previous 
day, and extended his hand to me, which I took 
and held in mine, whilst I told him of Gordon's 
death, and of such of the casualties as had come 
to my knowledge. He was much affected ; I felt 
the tears dropping fast upon my hand, and looking 
towards him, saw them chasing one another in 
furrows over his dusty cheeks. He brushed them 
away suddenly with his left hand, and said to me, 

^ Lord FiU Roy was so determined to return to his chief, and in the same 
capacity, that he devoted himself to writing with his left hand, and could 
soon do so with ease and clearness. 


in a voice trembling with emotion, 'Well, thank 
God, I don't know what it is to lose a battle, but 
certainly nothing can be more painful than to gain 
one with the loss of so many of one's friends/" 
Again, to the Duke of Beaufort : ** The losses I have 
sustained have quite broken me down, and I have 
no feeling for the advantages we have acquired." 

It is true that against this we have one or two 
well-authenticated cases of his harshness to officers 
who erred, and who came under his serious dis- 
pleasure. His treatment of the gallant Norman 
Ramsay after Vittoria is quoted as a proof of 
Wellington's implacable nature. Ramsay, as second 
captain, had commanded Bulls famous battery of 
horse artillery at that battle, and at its close had 
carried his guns across hedges and ditches to bring 
them to bear upon the retreating enemy. Later 
in the day Wellington met him at a village far in 
advance, where he desired him to remain with his 
battery till he, Wellington himself, sent him his 
next orders. None reached Ramsay that night, 
and he believed that the obligation to stand fast 
was ended. Moreover, the quartermaster-general 
now desired him to rejoin the rest of the cavalry. 
So Ramsay moved off with his battery, and, when 
the Duke returned, was not to be found ; he had 
become involved, too, in a difficult defile, and 


being unable to extricate himself, was shut out from 
usefulness the whoje of next day. Wellington was 
deeply incensed at what he deemed direct dis- 
obedience of the orders he had given personally, 
and he placed Norman Ramsay in arrest. Much 
sympathy was felt for the young artilleryman 
throughout the army, and strong intercession was 
made for him, especially by Sir Thomas Graham, but 
it only increased Wellington s irritation. Ramsay 
was kept in arrest a month, and then permitted to 
return to his battery. It is said that he never re- 
covered the indignity, and gladly met his death 
at Waterloo at the head of his guns, behind 

Wellington is thought to have never been 
partial to artillery, or to have sufficiently acknow- 
ledged the support it gave him. It was a great 
grievance with the horse artillery that its services 
were not mentioned in the Waterloo despatch. 
Cavali6 Mercer, in his journal, complains that 
his magnificent battery had hardly a word of com- 
mendation from the Duke, although it was all but 
destroyed during the action. We have also the 
story of the rockets with Whinyates' battery. The 
Duke did not believe in rockets much, and ordered 
that the tubes should be left behind at the base. 
When Sir George Wood pleaded hard, saying it 


would break Whinyates heart to lose his rockets, 
the Duke is reported to haye replied angrily, 

** D n his heart; let my orders be obeyed." 

This objection to rockets has been called ** irrational 
prejudice against innovation," It was rather a dis- 
like to experiment ; the Duke preferred to depend 
upon what he had tried and knew to be trust- 
worthy, and for this reason he was opposed to the 
arming of horse artillery with heavier guns ; their 
work having been well done in Spain with six- 
pounders, he saw no necessity for nine. But it 
may be admitted that the Duke chafed much at 
artillery traditions, and thought little of the senior 
officers of artillery on his staff in Spain. This 
was shown by his advancement of a junior, whose 
value he had discovered, over the heads of all. 
Alexander Dickson, who had shown what he was 
worth with the artillery of the Portuguese army, and 
in the artillery business at all the great sieges, was 
put by Wellington in 1813 at the head of all his 
artillery. Dickson was then only a captain in the 
regiment, although a colonel by brevet, and he was 
practically holding a lieutenant-general's command 
— some 8000 men and 3500 horses. 

One other instance must be given of Welling- 
ton's severity, but with the saving clause that it 
was surely well deserved. Colonel Sturgeon was 


clearly entitled to sharp rebuke for neglect of duty 
after Orthez, although not perhaps in such un- 
measured terms. Sturgeon was an officer of the 
staff corps, "a clear-headed officer," in whom 
Wellington had the highest confidence. He be- 
longed to the quartermaster-general's department, 
and in the latter part of the Peninsular war was 
head of the post office, and in command of the 
corps of guides. Wellington after Orthez was 
most anxious to communicate the news to Hope, 
who was in charge of independent operations at 
Bayonne. When the officer who was to carry the 
despatches asked for guides, there were none forth- 
coming. Sturgeon had suffered them to wander 
abroad much as they pleased, and the urgent letter 
to Hope was delayed for several days. Wellington 
was furious, and vented it upon Sturgeon in so 
violent a manner, using such harsh expressions, 
that the poor man never lifted his head again. 
He was heart-broken, and only a few days later he 
sought death by riding alone in among the enemy's 
skirmishers, who soon shot him through the head. 
George Napier, who relates this incident, adds that 
Wellington felt this tragic ending very deeply, but 
he made no show of it or of his regrets. '* He has 
always kept/* writes George Napier, ** to that system 


of never acknowledging he was wrong or mistaken." 


Again, it is thrown in Wellington s teeth that 
he neglected his old companions in arms ; that he 
was callous and indifferent to their hardships and 
grievances. Even Gleig, a nearly invariable pane- 
gyrist, remarks, that although he had a warm regard 
for them, he entered very little into the amenities 
of social life with them. ** We have reason to believe 
that neither Lord Hill, nor Lord Raglan, nor Sir 
George Murray ever visited the Duke at Strath- 
fieldsaye ; nor could they or others of similar stand- 
ing, such as Lord Anglesea, Sir Edward Paget, and 
Sir James Kempt, be reckoned among the habitues 
of his hospitable gatherings at Apsley House. The 
circle in which he chiefly moved was that of fashion- 
able ladies and gentlemen." We have here, no 
doubt, the survival of the spirit that impelled him 
to have two sets of staff-officers in the Peninsula — 
the men who amused him and the men who did the 
work. He was never, perhaps, very intimate with 
his senior officers, as officers ; they were never — 
and I may be forgiven the only word that will de- 
scribe it — his *' pals ; " he never associated with them 
either in Spain or afterwards, probably because it 
consorted better with his ideas of command to fix 
a gulf between them and him, and in the after years 
it was never bridged over. 

It is no doubt true that Wellington was slow to 

OPEN purse-strings 235 

admit the claims of those who had served with him to 
honours and rewards. He was averse to any general 
recognition of the kind ; the Peninsular medal was 
not issued to the Peninsular army till some thirty 
years after the war ; the grant had been steadfastly 
refused by the Duke, who himself wore almost every 
European decoration.^ Yet he willingly stirred him- 
self to secure the promotion of deserving officers, 
and not only his interest but his purse was always 
open to them. One or two little-remembered in- 
stances of the latter deserve to be recorded. The 
first is to be found in the Life of Lord Hill, when 
that gallant officer was suddenly summoned from 
Paris, in 18 15, to attend to some pecuniary losses in 
England. When he applied for leave, stating his 
reasons, Wellington, in granting it, said he was 
** much concerned for the unfortunate circumstances 
that had occasioned the necessity for his return to 
England." Then he goes on : ''In the existing 
state of public and private credit in England, I am 
apprehensive that you will find it difficult to procure 
the money which you will require. I have a large 
sum of money which is entirely at my command,' 
and I assure you that I could not apply it in a 

' There is a room wholly lined with glass cases in Apsley House, all 
filled with ribands, and orders, and swords of honour. 
' No doubt part of the Waterloo grant. 


manner more satisfactory to me than in accom- 
modating you, my dear Hill, to whom I am under 
so many obligations, and your father, for whom 
I entertain the highest respect, although I am not 
acquainted with him." The Duke asked only to 
be told if Hill found any difficulty in raising the 
money, when he would immediately put his man 
of business in communication with Lord Hills. 

The second instance was with Alava, the Spanish 
officer who was attached to his staff in Spain, and 
for whom he cherished a sincere regard. When, in 
the whirligig of Spanish political changes, Alava 
was exiled and came to England as a refugee, 
Wellington offered him a house rent free upon the 
Strathfieldsaye estate, with other pecuniary advan- 
tages. He went further, and introduced him to his 
bankers as his friend, emphasising the often empty 
expression, and stating that Alava was to be allowed 
to draw for what money he required. It is pleasant 
to know that Alava was loath to trespass too far 
on the Dukes generosity, and on one occasion, 
when staying at Brighton, he gladly accepted the 
use of another friend s carriage to go out to dinner, 
on the honourable plea that he was anxious to save 
the Duke's pocket. Wellington was far above all 
pettiness, all sordid ideas about money ; he was 
free and liberal with it. and strictly honourable in 


all pecuniary transactions, a most hospitable host, 
who kept an excellent table, and did things really 
well — so much so, that in Spain his expenditure 
exceeded his income, and he was compelled to 
demand better allowances, which were grudgingly 
granted. His brother, the Governor-General, pur- 
chased his lieutenant-colonelcy for him, and Arthur 
Wellesley's first desire on receiving some Indian 
prize-money was to repay the loan, a proposal 
which his brother, greatly to his honour, distinctly 

Full justice has never been done to Welling- 
ton s active benevolence. His hand was continually 
in his pockets ; he never turned a deaf ear to any 
appeal, and was often shamelessly victimised. When 
rebuked on one occasion for being so easily taken 
in, he answered naively, ** What could I do?. One 
could not let the man starve." He kept a bag of 
sovereigns handy, as well as a sheaf of bank notes, 
in his desk, to be applied to any pressing neces- 
sitous case that arose. Mr. Gleig reports that the 
Duke s charities amounted in one year to ;^4000. 
There is a story on this head which should be 
inserted here. It is of one of the Waterloo ban- 
quets that took place annually at Apsley House. 
The Duke produced a valuable snuff-box at one 
period in the banquet ; it went the round of the 


table and — disappeared. The incident was so un- 
pleasant that the guests present proposed that all 
should agree to be searched. All did agree but 
one old officer, who altogether refused, and was 
very coldly looked upon in consequence, being 
strongly suspected of the theft. Next year the 
Duke of Wellington wore for the first time the 
same uniform for the same banquet, and almost 
immediately found the snuff-box in some pocket. 
He had not forgotten the old officers suspicious 
conduct, which in this new light became the more 
strange. So the Duke searched him out, and asked 
what it meant. *'Your Grace, I refused to be 
searched because at that moment my pockets were 
filled with broken victuals I had filched from your 
table. While I feasted, my family were starving 
in a poor lodging, and I was taking them food." 
The story runs that the Duke was affected to 
tears, and at once took care that the impoverished 
officer should be put in a better position and 
above want.^ 

One other story was recounted to me in my 
youth by an old Peninsular veteran, who vouched 
for its accuracy. Once, in a ball-room at Bath, 
the Duke came across a half-pay officer whom he 

^ '* Ramsay's Reminiscences." The same story is told of Marshal Wadc, 
and will be found in Horace Walpole's letters. 


knew well, and accosted with much kindliness. 
** Can I do anything for you ? " asked Wellington. 
**Yes, your Grace, you can do me a very great 
service. Give me your arm across the room." The 
Duke assented laughingly, and at the other end of 
the room asked what it all meant. *' I am paying 
my addresses to a wealthy widow who is here, and 
who will, I think, accept me now that she sees me 
so honoured by your Grace." The result was as he 
hoped, and with part of the fortune thus acquired 
he purchased back on to full pay, and resuming 
an active career, gained in due course the highest 

As time passed, and during the later years of 
his life, Wellington occupied a unique position. 
He was on a high pinnacle, the first man in 
England, the best known man in the country ; 
**not only the adviser of the Crown and the 
arbiter of parties," but to the public a universal 
referee and correspondent. People consulted him 
on every conceivable subject ; all sorts of tricks 
were adopted to get one of his famous replies, 
couched in the well-known style, ** Field-Marshal 
the Duke of Wellington presents his compliments 
to," &c. &c. It is now said that the application 
made by Lord Douro's washerwoman to the Duke 
for an unpaid account was only a hoax in order to 


extract an autograph letter. Almost to the day 
of his death the Duke was a real painstaking 
operative, a man of habit and hard work of the 
most varied kind. No one in England gave away 
more brides or had more god-children. He rose 
early from his simple couch at Walmer, an old 
campaigning friend in Apsley House, a truckle- 
bed, and went straight to his desk, where he dealt 
with his day s correspondence, taking every point in 
turn, and giving each that concentrated attention 
that was one of his greatest faculties. ** Rest ! 
Every other animal, even a donkey, a coster- 
monger's donkey, is allowed some rest, but the 
Duke of Wellington never. There is no help for 
it. As long as I am able to go on, they will put 
the saddle on my back and make me go." In the 
short interval when the whole Ministry was com- 
bined in his single person, and he found arrears 
in some of the offices, he left none. The training 
of the Peninsula was still bearing good fruit. 



Apsley House— Private apartments — Art treasures— Wellington and 
Sir David Wilkie — China and plate — His craze for and collection of 
watches — Active habits — Last illness and death. 

SOMETHING of the skill of the modern inter- 
viewer is needed to bring Wellington as 
he was and lived — his tastes, habits, ways, 
predilections, even his eccentricities — before a 
later generation. He had three separate homes — 
Walmer, Strathfieldsaye, and Apsley House, giving 
his preference perhaps to the first, but residing at 
all in turn. Walmer has been in many hands since 
his, but the recollection of him is still religiously 
preserved there, and he is remembered as one of 
the most conscientious wardens the Cinque Ports 
have ever had.^ Strathfieldsaye is also full of 
memories of the first Duke, but Apsley House is 
actually the same to-day as when he last left it to 
end his great life at Walmer. 


' It says much for the Duke's far-seeing judgment that he was in favour of 
the harbour or port extension of Dover, on almost the very lines that it is now 
being carried out, some fifty years later. I am told that Lord Salisbury shows 
the same business head in conducting the aflfairs of the Cinque Ports. 



The visitor who enters Apsley House in the 
proper spirit cannot but be affected by the sentiment 
of the place. We seem to see the great man pacing 
its marble halls, issuing from its portals to walk or 
ride through the streets, working laboriously in the 
modest library attached to his still more modest 
private apartments ; the three rooms which were 
peculiarly his own, at the back of the house, upon 
the ground floor ; the small bedroom with its 
seven doors, bare of furniture, and leading into the 
study, where he worked in the forenoon with his 
secretaries. The standing desk is still preserved 
there, a plain rosewood desk, and near it the 
famous **mule box," of campaigning days, a plain 
deal box, never painted, with a special but by no 
means safe key, in which he kept his confidential 
papers and the bank notes for his secret charities. 
These rooms are still beautifully plain and simple, 
and no pains have been spared to keep them as 
they were occupied by the first owner and head 
of the house. 

Apsley House is so named after Lord Chan- 
cellor Apsley, who built it at the latter end of the 
eighteenth century, on the site of the old lodge to 
Hyde Park, where once stood the suburban inn 
called **The Pillars of Hercules," where Squire 
Western stayed when he came seeking his fugitive 


daughter. In 18 10 Apsley House came into the 
possession of Marquis Wellesley, who lived there 
while Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs. The 
Duke bought it from his brother in 1820, and spent 
a large sum of money (some /^ 1 30,000) in alterations 
and improvements inside and out. The present 
bath-stone front was placed over the old brick, and 
a new wing, that adjoining the Park, was added. 
He was not pleased with the bill, which, he said, 
** would have broken any ones back but mine;" 
and he never seems to have had much affection 
for the house, the name of which — Apsley House 
— he seldom used, either in speaking of it or dating 
from it. 

It is not exactly an art treasure house, yet there 
are many valuable pictures on its walls, many inte- 
resting curiosities and relics. In the chief hall are 
several busts and statues : notably of Castlereagh, 
by Chantrey ; of the Duke himself, in bronze, by 
Count D'Orsay ; a reduced copy of Rauch's statue 
of Blucher; Canovas great statue of Bonaparte, 
executed in 18 10, but never unveiled, and purchased 
by our Government for ;^3000 from that of Louis 
XVIII., after Waterloo, for presentation to the 
Duke. The principal reception rooms are reached 
by a steep circular staircase, and in the first 
drawing-room is an indifferent portrait, attributed 


to Wootton, of Marlborough, for whom Wellington 
had the highest respect. ** I can conceive nothing 
greater than Marlborough at the head of an English 
army," he told Stanhope; and again: * 'Marlborough 
was remarkable for his clear, cool, steady under- 
standing." Opposite Marlborough is Landseer's 
** Van Amberg in the lions* den," a picture painted 
under the personal supervision of the Duke, who 
stood over Landseer, Bible in hand, and pointed 
to the passage in Genesis where Adam is given 
dominion over the earth and its animals. Landseer 
was not unnaturally restive under the Duke s inter- 
ference, who on looking at sketches, sometimes con- 
demned them with, '* Very fine, I dare say, but not 
what I want." The ** Chelsea Pensioners" and the 
** Greenwich Veterans" are also here. The first 
was painted, slowly and painfully, by Sir David 
Wilkie, who went much to nature and painted 
many of the figures from life. This is the picture 
for which Wellington paid ;^i26o, or 1200 guineas, 
which sum the Duke paid over on the nail, in cash. 
When Wilkie mildly suggested that he would prefer 
a cheque, the Duke replied laughingly, *' Do you 
think I want Messrs. Coutts's clerks to know how 
foolishly I spend my money ? " This picture was 
lent to Graves for three years to be engraved, on 
the clear understanding that it was to be returned 


exactly at the date of the expiration of this term. 
It was sent back to time, the Duke receiving it, 
watch in hand, with the remark, ''Now, Mr. Graves, 
you shall have any other picture of mine to engrave 
whenever you like." Sir David Wilkie is said to 
have received a second ;^i200 for the rights of 
engraving. The other picture of the Greenwich 
veterans was painted by Mr. Burnet, Wilkie having 
declined the commission. The Duke paid ;^500 
for it, and made it an heirloom. 

The principal pictures made heirlooms by the 
Duke are the Spanish pictures, as they are called in 
the inventory — those recovered from King Joseph 
after Vittoria, and restored to King Ferdinand of 
Spain by Wellington ; although that monarch, with 
much good feeling, insisted that the Duke should 
keep them. Among these are several famous works 
by Velasquez : the '' Aguador," or water-carrier ; 
portraits of Quevedo and **The Young Man," 
long supposed to have been Velasquez himself, 
also the great portrait of the Pope, Innocent X., 
whose shrewd rubicund visage shines out from 
the canvas instinct with life and truth. There is 
a fine Correggio, and the Murillo of which Soult 
said to Gurwood when he saw it in Apsley House, 
** I value that picture, for it saved the life of 
two estimable men." The rapacious marshal had 


threatened to shoot them both unless they gave 
up the picture. 

Space forbids anything like a complete cata- 
logue of the works of art in Apsley House, The 
pictures include many of the Dutch school, for which 
the Duke had a great liking — Jan Steens, Ostades, 
Teniers, and the rest ; many portraits, those parti- 
cularly of many of his comrades and lieutenants, the 
best of which are given in this work ; a full-length 
by Lefebvre of Napoleon ; Wilkie s portrait of the 
beautiful Lady Lyndhurst ; an exceedingly fine like- 
ness of Francis I. of Austria, so lifelike that the 
Duke on unpacking it exclaimed, ** Poor man, very 
good— poor man, very like;" portraits also of 
** those two corporals," as Wellington styled the 
Emperor Alexander and the King of Prussia ; last 
of all, a most monstrous and grotesque portrait of 
George IV., **in the garb of Old Gaul," a gigantic 
Highlander in a kilt. 

Among the, curiosities are the malachite vases 
presented to the Duke by the Czar, and a whole 
room full of china, crammed with the offerings of 
grateful kings and peoples. Here is the great gilt 
shield designed by Stothard, R.A., the gift of that 
very corporation of London that in 1809 clamoured 
for the recall of Wellington from Spain, valued at 
;^ 1 00,000; innumerable dinner services in all kinds 


of faience ; and in cases through the room are 
ribbons and decorations of every order in the civi- 
lised world. 

It has been said that Wellington was no great 
art lover, but he took a very lively interest in 
pictures, especially those he chose and purchased 
for himself. No doubt he was an unwilling sitter, 
and yet no man had more portraits painted of him 
He once said of himself that he had been taken in 
every attitude except that of standing on his head 
Another story is to the effect that he once gave 
rendezvous to several portrait painters at one and 
the same time. When they arrived, all together, 
they were aghast to find that he had caused a 
studio "throne" to be placed in the centre of a 
large room, which he ascended, saying, " Now, 
gentlemen, I can give you two hours. Seat your- 
selves around and fire away." Of all likenesses he 
preferred Count D'Orsays, **who always made him 
look like a gentleman." To be an English gentle- 
man was, in Wellington's mind, the highest title of 
honour. It was his religion almost, and he acted 
most scrupulously to the rules of conduct that 
guided the class in his days. There is no better 
proof of this than his readiness to give satisfac- 
tion to Gronow when the latter thought his char- 
acter had been unfairly aspersed by the great Duke. 


One man was fresh from the field of Waterloo, the 
cynosure of every eye ; the other a simple captain in 
the Guards. But the Duke, having first apologised, 
wrote Gronow with his own hand to say he was 
ready to meet him if he was not ** satisfied." 

Wellington had one foible as a collector. His 
taste lay in watches ; his fondness for them rivalled 
that of the Emperor Charles V., who amused him- 
self in the cloister with watchmaking. The Duke 
loved to chat with M. Breguet, the watchmaker, 
who was always a welcome caller at Apsley House. 
He was very particular about time-keeping, yet his 
watches often disappointed him, probably because 
he insisted upon winding — or forgetting to wind — 
them up himself. The only clock he could really 
depend upon in Apsley House was that which 
still stands in the hall, and. was as trustworthy as 
that at the Horse Guards. The Duke had six 
or seven watches always going in his room, and 
when he travelled had as many in the portmanteau 
which fitted into the front of his carriage. 

Two of his watches possessed historical interest. 
One, his favourite, and constant- companion, was 
of old-fashioned English make, and once belonged 
to Tippoo Sahib, having passed into the Dukes 
possession after the taking of Seringapatam. It 
was left once on the ground at a bivouac during 

















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f. '. ^l I 






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a retreat in the Peninsula, and Wellington valued 
it so highly that he went back three miles through 
the crowd, and was fortunate enough to recover 
it. The other watch was one made by Breguet for 
Napoleon, as a gift to his brother Joseph, which had 
a map of Spain enamelled on the back. Napoleon, 
after Joseph's misfortunes and expulsion from Spain, 
would not pay for it. It remained on Breguet's hands, 
and after the peace Sir Edward Paget bought it to 
present to the Duke. A third watch of Welling- 
ton s had belonged to Junot, and recorded lunar 
and weekly movements as well as the hours. 

In late life the Duke always carried montres 
de louche, watches contrived by Breguet with knobs 
or bosses on the dial-plate, so that the time could 
be felt with the watch in the pocket, thus avoiding 
the rudeness ot openly pulling it out. The Duke 
all his life thought highly of the value of time. 
He absolutely worshipped punctuality, and prided 
himself on never being late for a train. Once, 
however, he ran it very close, and got to the station 
after the proper time of departure of the express 
for Dover. The express had actually started, but, 
as many other passengers had also been left behind, 
a second special was being despatched just as the 
Duke arrived. ** Ha ! " cried the Duke, delighted. 
** Thought I was late. Never late in my life before. 




My watch must be wrong ; let it be taken to be 

To the last the Duke retained his fondness for 
field sports and life in the open air. The general 
who rode to hounds as his chief relaxation in 
Spain, hunted regularly in England whenever and 
wherever he could. He is a prominent figure in 
Sir Francis Grants picture of the Melton Hunt, 
and in Calvert's of the Vine. He was very fond 
of shooting, and a good shot. He walked a good 
deal, even when infirm and at a very advanced 
age. There is no better story, especially in the 
sequel, which, I believe, is hardly known, than that 
of his adventure at the crossing in front of Apsley 
House. The Duke narrowly escaped an accident, 
from which he was rescued by some stranger, who 
profited by the occasion to express his deep thank- 
fulness at being of some assistance to "the great 

Englishman, the great hero, the " " Don t 

be a d d fool," snapped the Duke, who hated 

hyperbole, and walked off. The best part of the 
story is to come. The Duke later the same day 
was describing the affair in a lady's^ drawing- 
room, and wound up the story with the astonish- 
ing statement, ** I do believe if it hadn't been for 
me the fellow would have been run over." 

^ Lady Lyttleton. 


There can be no doubt that the Duke owed 
immunity from serious illness, and his longevity, to 
these active habits. He benefited largely by his 
systematic, resolute employment of the simplest 
and best means of keeping up his condition. He 
was exceedingly temperate and abstemious, a very 
small eater — too small, his friends sometimes said, 
for health. When he paid the great debt at last, 
he had reached the long age of eighty-three. His 
end was peaceful ; he passed away quietly and 
painlessly, mourned by the whole nation. 

*^ Mourn for the man of long-enduring blood, 
The statesman- warrior, moderate, resolute, 
Whole in himself, a common good. 
Mourn for the man of amplest influence 
Vet clearest of ambition's crime. 
Our greatest yet with least pretence, 
Great in council and great in war. 
Foremost captain of his time. 
Rich in saving common-sense, 
And as the greatest only are, 
In his simplicity sublime. 
O good grey head which all men knew, 
O voice from which their omens all men drew, 
O iron nerve to true occasion true — 
O fall'n at length that tower of strength 
Which stood four-square to all the winds that blew ! 
Such was he whom we deplore. 
The long self-sacrifice of life is o'er, 
The great world-victor*s victor will be seen no more." 

—Tennyson : Ode on the Death of the 
Duke of Wellington, 

(By kind permission of Messrs. Macmillan & Co.) 





Hill — Beresford — Cotton — Graham — Picton — Craufurd — Lowry 
Cole — Colville — Leith — Clinton — Fletcher — Le Marchant—Gomm — 
Kempt— Dickson— Fitz Roy Somerset — Colin Campbell — William 

MANY fine soldiers surrounded Wellington, 
and served him loyally through his long 
and chequered campaigns, but, like lesser 
stars in a system, their effulgence was dimmed in 
the strong brilliant light of the central sun. The 
chief was unquestionably a head and shoulders 
above his lieutenants ; none could approach him 
or compare with him ; he was immeasurably their 
superior in every respect Yet they were good men 
and true, each according to his means and capa- 
bilities. Each had his strong points ; this was 
foremost in the fight, that strenuous and unyielding 
in defence, another was skilled in administration or 
an adept in manoeuvre, of a sanguine spirit to sway 
and strengthen troops. There was Hill, " Farmer 
Hill," ** Daddy Hill," as he was affectionately known 

through the army, beloved by all who knew him, 



the most modest, retiring, mild-mannered of men, 
the very ideal of an English country gentleman, yet 
brave as a lion, sturdy, safe, unflinching in battle, 
a good and faithful soldier who made no mistakes 
and "always did what he was told,"^ a model of 
discipline " who never exceeded his orders, but never 
failed to execute them in consummate and complete 
style"*; Beresford, the big boisterous Irishman, long- 
headed, large-minded, one on whom his chief greatly 
relied for counsel and support, who had great gifts 
for organisation and a firm temper in forming and 
perfecting the drill and discipline of newly raised 
levies ; Cotton, the beau sadreur^ the splendid horse- 
man, young, intrepid, handsome, the Murat of 
English cavalry ; Graham, the grand and gallant 
old soldier, who took late in life to the business 
of war out of pure love of it, and showed that he 
was a born leader of men, strongest in the hour of 
supreme danger, keen, daring, ** of ready temper for 
battle " ; Picton, ever an eager, forward combatant, 
a slogger and hard hitter, *'a rough, foul-mouthed 
devil as ever lived," Wellington called him, yet be- 
lieved in him thoroughly, declaring that **no man 
could do better in the different services assigned to 
him " ; Craufurd, dark, stern, and unbending, perhaps 
the strictest disciplinarian the army has ever known. 

^ Wellington. ' Napier. 




an unrivalled leader of light troops, whose incom- 
parable " Orders " still survive as a military classic ; 
Lowry Cole, trustworthy and obedient, of courtly 
manners and fine presence ; Colville, an excellent 
tactician ; Leith and Clinton the same, and good 
safe divisional leaders ; Murray, the practised staff- 
officer, of long experience as a quartermaster- 
general, "the best brains in the army after 
Wellington " * ; Charles Stewart, afterwards Lord 
Londonderry ; Wellington's brother-in-law, good- 
tempered Edward Pakenham, the most straight- 
forward officer, most skilful and intelligent in 
action ; Fletcher, the skilful engineer who built 
the lines of Torres Vedras, and who was killed all 
too soon at the first and unsuccessful assault at 
San Sebastian ; his colleagues and subordinates, 
Burgoyne and Harry Jones, both of whom rose in 
after years to great place and fame ; Le Marchant,* 
the first to give an impetus to military education in 
England, and who invented Sandhurst by starting 
the colleges of Great Marlow and High Wycombe ; 
Kempt, at one time a clerk in Cox & Greenwood s, 
the army agents;' Gomm, most accomplished 

^ Larpent. 

^ Le Marchant will be remembered as having devised the regulations for 
cavalry sword exercise ; he was a splendid sadrgur^ and at Salamanca, before 
his death, cut down six of the enemy with his own hand. 

' His Royal Highness the Duke of York was, it is said, deep in the books 


of staff-officers ; Hardinge, the same who rose 
to be a peer of the realm and commander-in- 
chief of the army ; Colborne, Lord Seaton, one of 
the best regimental colonels the army has ever 
seen, "a man of singular talent for war" (Napier), 
who on several occasions, by his ready tactical 
genius, changed the fate of a battle at the most 
critical time ; Beckwith, another fine regimental 
officer and leader of light troops, and, with Col- 
borne, trusted subordinates of their renowned chief. 
Craufurd ; Dickson, already mentioned, a great artil- 
leryman, of impetuous character, fighting doggedly 
against ill-health, a most methodical and industrious 
soldier, minute and painstaking, a master of detail ; 
Pack, a fighting Irishman, renowned for his for- 
wardness on many various fields ; De Lancey, one 
of the most expert in the quartermaster-general's 
branch ; the Napiers, three intrepid brothers who 
poured out their life's blood unhesitatingly upon 
numberless hard-fought fields ; Waters, unrivalled as 
an intelligence officer, ubiquitous, keenly observant, 
who could assume any costume, play any part, speak 
fluent Castilian or the lowest patois, talk French if 
necessary with the German accent of the pure 

of this well-known bank. There is a story of a dinner at which the Duke 
proposed their health, saying, " I am their banker ; that is to say, I have 
more of their money than they of mine." 


Alsatian; Colquhoun Grant, another of the same 
kidney, upon whose explorations and reconnaissances 
Wellington relied, and was assisted in some of his 
greatest coups ; Cameron of the fighting 9th, better 
known as " Devil " Cameron, a man of astonishing 
enterprise in attack ; Colin Campbell, afterwards 
Lord Clyde, who learnt his trade in the Peninsula, 
and was inured to danger by his sturdy captain, 
who marched him to and fro under the hottest fire 
the first time he went into action, and lived to 
command armies on his own account in very critical 

Wellington's own personal staff, who shared his 
labours and dangers, could work as well as play ; 
they must be men of like endurance with their 
indefatigable chief. Lord Fitz Roy Somerset 
stands first among them as the most devoted 
assistant and friend. "You are aware how useful 
he always has been to me . . . and what a regard 
and affection I feel for him," Wellington wrote of 
him after Waterloo. Lord Fitz Roy was not only 
untiring in his special secretarial work, but he was 
in intimate relations with regimental commanding 
officers, who could always come to him in matters 
appertaining to their battalions, and through him 
to Wellington, thus giving the general-in-chief 
more exact knowledge of the state of regiments. 


the merits of individual officers, than could have 
been obtained by the regular official reports.^ This 
was done, as Napier tells us, with such discretion 
and judgment that the military hierarchy was in 
no manner weakened. Another staff-officer who 
was at Wellington s side through all his campaign- 
ing was Sir Colin Campbell ; * their acquaintance 
began in India, at the assault of Ahmednuggur, 
where Campbell was thrown off a high wall into 
space. Wellesley saw the affair, and feared Camp- 
bell was killed, but, on sending to inquire, found 
that he was only severely wounded. Campbell 
afterwards became Wellesley's brigade major ; in 
the Peninsula he joined his personal staff, and was 
by his side to the last at Waterloo and in Paris. 

William Gordon, again, who was a dear friend ; 
Lord March, for whom he had a fatherly affection ; 
Lord William Lennox ; the faithful Gurwood, who 
first won his chiefs esteem at the assault of Ciudad 
Rodrigo, where he received the Governor s sword — 
these were all good soldiers, active, full of spirits, 
all alive, ready to chaff and laugh, dance, hunt, 
play, but ready, too, to spend hours in the saddle 
by their chiefs side, in covering long distances or 
in the thick of the fight. 

1 " Napier's History," iv. 80. 

* Not the Colin Campbell who afterwards became Lord Clyde. 


It is impossible, however, to do full justice to 
the merits of all Wellington's worthies ; the names 
even of all the gallant and deserving band cannot 
be enumerated. But I propose now to deal more 
at length with some of the most prominent and 



Of good birth — Rapid promotion — Friend of Geoi^e III. — Early 
service in India — Brighton and the Prince Regent — Baronetcy. 

COTTON comes first of those who bore the 
whole heat and burthen of the day, who 
fought from first to last from Portugal 
through Spain into France — first by right of seni- 
ority, for after the second landing in Portugal he 
presently became the highest on the list, although 
the youngest of the major-generals. Stapleton 
Cotton owed it to his family connections that he 
gained promotion more rapidly than most, even in 
those days when influence was so powerful a lever. 
The son of a baronet, with large landed estates and 
many political friends, he found himself lieutenant- 
colonel commanding a regiment of horse, " Gwynn s 
Hussars," the 25th Light Dragoons, at the early 
age of one-and-twenty. Yet he was already a soldier 
of promise who had done good service in the field. 
** Little Cotton " passed in a couple of years from 
ensign of infantry to a captain of carabineers— the 



6th Dragoon Guards, a wild regiment, in those days 
much given to hard drinking and ready fighting; 
but the boy, whose exuberant spirits soon earned 
him the epithet of ** Rapid Cotton,'* was the life 
of the mess without yielding to debauchery. He 
fought at Fremont in Flanders, returning to com- 
mand his troop in action, although actually on his 
homeward journey with his new rank of lieutenant- 
colonel. He became the friend of George HI., 
who loved the light-hearted young man, at that 
time the beau-ideal of a cavalry officer, slight but 
strongly built, with a neat figure, active in wind 
and limb. Society welcomed the handsome youth 
with open arms, and he was in the thick of gaieties, 
which he never preferred to his own adventurous 
calling, and he hailed with delight the order to 
embark with his regiment for India in 1796. En 
route he was detained at the Cape for the opera- 
tions that ended with the defeat of the Dutch. In 
India he was stationed in the Madras Presidency, 
and was brought into frequent contact with Colonel 
Wellesley, his great future leader. There was, 
however, no intimacy between them ; Cotton found 
Wellesley *' cheerful, good-natured, but reserved, 
never even at that age indulging in the confi- 
dential intercourse of youth." Cotton was at the 
taking of Seringapatam, and the day previous, at 


six-and-twenty, commanded a small cavalry brigade, 
which he handled so well that he was mentioned in 
despatches, and proved himself thus early a cool 
and skilful cavalry leader. 

The death of his elder brother made him next 
heir to the title, and cut short his Indian career. 
He was exchanged by his father into the i6th 
Dragoons, and returned to the frivolous life of the 
Court. At Brighton he became intimate with the 
Prince of Wales, but fell into disgrace over some 
incautious gossip about Mrs. Fitz- Herbert, an 
offence the Prince never pardoned, and the full 
penalty of which Cotton felt years later in losing the 
command of the cavalry at Waterloo. Marriage, 
service in Ireland, parliamentary duties (for Cotton, 
after the manner of many prominent soldiers ot his 
time, had a seat in the House of Commons) filled 
up his time till war loomed near at home. He was 
now a major-general (1805), and he had lost his 
young wife in 1807, and in 1808 he gladly accepted 
the command of a small brigade to serve in Portu- 
gal. He was too late to join Sir John Moore, but 
he was with Wellesley in the advance of the Douro, 
and again at Talavera, where with his brigade, and 
his firm front at the critical moment, he helped with 
the 48th foot to save the battle. 

At the end of the year 1809 Cotton succeeded 


to the baronetcy, and went home to settle his 
affairs. Other than family honours awaited him, 
for on taking his place he received the thanks of 
the House of Commons. He might now have 
fairly rested upon his laurels, and remained in 
England to enjoy life, a spoiled darling of fortune, 
possessed of a fine estate, made much of in society, 
indulging to the full in gaiety and sport. But 
Cotton was before all a soldier, devoted to the 
trade in which he was so great a proficient, and he 
was eager to return at once to Spain. Welling- 
ton received him cordially, and gave 4iim the 
command of the whole of his cavalry. It has 
been said by Cottons friends that Wellington 
never liked him, and there are stories extant that 
go to prove, if trustworthy, that he laughed a 
little at the dandified cavalry general in after years.* 
Yet it is certain that in the Peninsula Wellington 
thought highly of him ; he was heard to say 
that he knew, when he gave Sir Stapleton Cotton 
an order, it would be obeyed with zeal and dis- 
cretion. As a leader Wellington was very thrifty 
of his horsemen, and used them as little as he 
could help. There were times, too, when he 
rebuked his cavalry officers sharply. In 181 2 he 
writes to Hill condemning '*the trick our officers 

' See post, p. 280. 


of cavalry have acquired of galloping at every- 
thing, and then galloping back as fast as they 
gallop on the enemy. They never consider their 
situation, never think of manoeuvring before an 
enemy — so little, that one would think they cannot 
manoeuvre except on Wimbledon Common ; and 
when they use their arm as it ought to be used, 
viz. offensively, they never keep nor provide for 
a reserve." 

It does not appear that Wellington included 
Sir Stapleton in these severe strictures. Nor was 
he chary of praise to his cavalry leader. At Sala- 
manca he spoke out with ungrudging enthusiasm. 
After Le Marchant's charge, when the heavy 
dragoons, " big men on big horses," crashed into 
the French columns and almost destroyed them, 
Wellington rode up to him, and cried with his 
usual objurgation, ** By G — d. Cotton, I never saw 
anything more splendid in my life ! The day is 
yours'' ^ Afterwards he strongly urged that some 
special mark of favour should be conferred upon 

^ General Le Marchant, who lost his life in this charge, had had ** words" 
with his chief just before he started on his perilous adventure. Le Marchant, 
a little confused by the many changes of position that had taken place that 
morning, asked his chief which way he should front. ** To the enemy, sir 1 " 
cried Cotton furiously. Le Marchant retorted as angrily, for the answer 
conveyed an imputation on his courage, of course neither meant nor deserved. 
The matter would probably have ended in a duel but for poor Le Marchant's 


him, and Cotton got the red ribbon of the Bath. 
"No cavalry could act better than ours," he wrote 
Lord Bathurst; "and I must say for Sir Stapleton, 
that I don't know where we could find an officer 
that could command our cavalry in this country 
as well as he does." 

Sir Stapleton Cotton was no doubt entitled to 
high commendation. By natural gifts, inclinations, 
habits, and acquired proficiency he was admirably 
fitted for the post he held. He knew his business 
to the letter ; no adjutant in the smartest regiment 
could beat him in details of the cavalry service. At 
an inspection his eye was quick and unerring ; in 
manoeuvres he was an adept, no ill-informed officer 
dared go wrong in drill when he was by ; his 
leadership was excellent ; a good eye for the country, 
much promptitude and decision, with a full know- 
ledge of pace ; always cool and collected, under 
the heaviest fire as calm as in a room, above all, 
full of the cheery hopefulness that looked always 
at the bright side, refusing to be cast down or 
depressed, he won the readiest support of those he 
commanded. In person he was the perfection of 
a cavalry officer. A fine figure and a fine seat, 
a noble presence on horseback, and a full belief 
in the decorative part of his business, helped him 
greatly, and enhanced his reputation as a beau 


sabreur. Like Wellington he paid the strictest 
attention to dress, but, more like Murat, he loved 
gay uniforms and gorgeous trappings, and he ap- 
peared always in the hardest encounters and most 
trying occasions as though going to a levee or 
a ball. His splendid appearance in Spain gained 
him the title of the *'Lion d'Or." When fully 
dressed and accoutred, generally in the uniform 
of a general of Hussars, it was computed that 
Cotton as he rode, man and horse, was worth 
about ;^500. Withal he was kindly, sociable, 
warm-hearted, courteous to all ranks, hospitable, 
and loving to entertain his friends. Although hot- 
tempered, sharp speaking, he was greatly liked, 
for he personified some of the qualities men mostly 
admire — youth, good looks, and daring courage. 

At the close of the day at Salamanca, Cotton 
was severely wounded in the arm, and but for his 
own strenuous objection must have suffered ampu- 
tation. But he rejoined Wellington in time to 
cover the retreat from Burgos. At the crossing of 
the Pisuerga he fought an action of the three arms 
with great skill and judgment, for which he was com- 
mended by Wellington. It is in this period that 
we must place the story, told by Sir Harry Jones,^ 
of his sitting by the bivouac fire when a group of 

* To Colonel W. W. Knolljrs, Lord Combermere's biographer. 



staff-officers galloped up, and one of them, appa- 
rently a young aide-de-camp, gave some orders in 
an authoritative voice. "Who is that chap who 
speaks so impetuously?" asked Jones. *' Don't 
you know?" replied Sir Richard Fletcher, his 
chief '* It is Sir Stapleton Cotton, who com- 
mands the cavalry." 

Cotton returned a second time to England, and 
was again thanked by the House of Commons. 
He looked now for a peerage, and his friends were 
justified in urging his claims. But there were 
reasons* other than the continued disfavour in 
which he stood with the Prince Regent, and 'he 
wept back to the Peninsula still Sir Stapleton 
Cotton, just too late for Vittoria, but in time to 
take part in the closing scenes of the war. Now, 
however, six of Wellington's most distinguished 
generals were advanced to the peerage. Cotton 
among them, with the title of Lord Combermere. 
Then followed the bitter disappointment of his 
omission from the staff for the Waterloo campaign. 
While he fully expected, and might fairly claim, 
the command of the cavalry, it was denied, as is 
said, by the unrelenting spitefulness of the Prince 
Regent. A letter from the military secretary to 
the Duke sought to ignore the real reason of the 

See post, under Beresford. 


refusal. "There appears to be a very general 
wish on his own part and that of others," writes 
Torrens, " that Lord Uxbridge should be appointed 
to your cavalry. Will you have the goodness to 
let me know your confidential wishes and opinion 
on the subject?" The Duke wished for Lord 
Combermere, and strongly urged his appointment, 
assuring him that he was most anxious "to have 
the assistance of all those to whom upon former 
occasions I have been so much indebted." But 
the great leader's wishes were as nothing against 
court intrigue, and Combermere was passed over. 
It was another of the many rebuffs and crossings 
Wellington had to endure when preparing for the 
great final struggle with Napoleon, and to which 
I have referred elsewhere.^ Lord Uxbridge, it 
must be admitted, nobly discharged the duty en- 
trusted to him,* and after his wound on the field, 
the cavalry command during the occupation of 
France was given to Combermere. 

* See ante, p. 163. 

' Lord Uxbridge, as Lord Paget, commanded the cavalry in the retreat 
on Corunna, and was highly commended by Sir John Moore. His force was 
in sore straits too — many of the horses without shoes, the men greatly worn 
and harassed. But Moore said his cavalry behaved admirably, and always 
showed superior to the French, thanks to the fine example showed them by 
their leaders. Lord Paget and Stewart. Uxbridge had risen at one bound 
through the regimental grades ; he was lieutenant in the 7th Fusiliers in 
March I795« and a lieutenant-colonel of the i6th Dragoons in June the same 
year. In 1796 he became colonel of the 7th Light Dragoons, and, despite 
his brief military experience, is said to have made it one of the smartest 


The remainder of a useful and distinguished life, 
prolonged far beyond the usual limits, was spent 
by Stapleton Cotton in the service of his country. 
He governed Barbadoes ; he commanded the troops 
in Ireland ; he was especially selected by his old 
chief for that difficult enterprise the reduction of 
Bhurtpore, and he was afterwards commander-in- 
chief in India, and acted for a time as Governor- 
General. He was never credited with conspicuous 
genius, and it was said that Wellington valued him 
more for his bull-dog determination to carry any 
business through than his capacity and mental 
gifts. Hence the famous story of his reply to the 
East India Company's directors when they waited 
upon him to ask for a general to take Bhurtpore. 
*'You can't do better than have Combermere," the 
Duke had said. " But," protested the directors, 
** we believed your Grace did not think very highly 
of Lord Combermere, or consider him a man of 
great genius." ** I don't care a d — n about his 
genius," was the reply, in the Duke's down- 
right language ; ** I tell you he is the man to take 
Bhurtpore." And he took it with splendid gallantry, 

cavalry regiments in the army. Except at Walcheren he saw no service 
between Corunna and Waterloo. But in the final campaign Wellington 
greatly relied upon him, gave him a free hand, and we have it from Lord 
Uxbridge himself that "from first to last he never bothered the Duke with a 
single question as to necessary movements." 


having been with difficulty dissuaded from leading 
the stormers ; but he went in person through the 
thick of the fire to summon the citadel to surrender. 
It was as brilliant an achievement as any in our 
Indian annals, and had a potent influence upon the 
consolidation of our rule ; for smaller folk had con- 
stantly pointed to the supposed impregnable fortress 
and cried tauntingly, "You may bully us, but go 
and take Bhurtpore." 

There was little question of the fine soldierly 
qualities of the old sabreur^ although in later years his 
services were rather overlooked, and the stern stuff 
of which he was made forgotten under the guise 
he assumed of a superannuated dandy and gay man 
about town. It was always said that Thackeray's 
Sir George Tufto, that inimitable type of a dashing 
dragoon general, was drawn from Lord Comber- 
mere. Nor is the story quite apocryphal of the 
Duke of Wellington's apostrophe when his former 
lieutenant paid him a visit at the Horse Guards. 
Lord Fitz Roy Somerset is said to have announced 
him; whereupon the Duke cried testily, "What does 

the d d old painted jackass want with me } " H is 

military secretary, aghast, whispered, "He will hear 
you, sir." Then the old Duke used the words so 
often quoted, " Do you think I care a twopenay 
tinker's d — n whether he hears me or not ! " And 


not strangely, when Lord Fitz Roy went out into 
the ante-room, Lord Combermere had disappeared. 
Stapleton Cotton outlived all his contempo- 
raries, and died full of honours, a field-marshal, 
gold stick colonel of the ist' Life Guards, and 
constable of the Tower, at the advanced age of 



Parentage — One of a large family — Early studies — First commission 
— Promotion — Service abroad — Becomes major-general — To Copen- 
hagen with Wellesley ; and to Portugal — Engaged in independent 
operations — Almaraz — His fine soldierly qualities— His kindliness and 
the affection he won — "Father Hill" — ^At Waterloo — Later services 
as commander of the forces — Wellington's appreciation. 

ROWLAND HILL came of a good old Shrop- 
shire stock, the Hills of Hawkstone; he 
belonged to the younger branch, but the 
baronetcy is now merged in the higher honours won 
by the distinguished general. There were sixteen 
of them, ten sons and six daughters, all children of 
the fine old man whom George IV. greeted in after 
years as the father of so many brave sons. Four 
of them served under Wellington — Rowland, Lord 
Hill ; Sir Robert, an officer in the Blues ; Thomas 
Noel, who commanded a Portuguese regiment ; and 
Clement, his brothers aide-de-camp. Rowland is 
remembered as a gentle, sensitive child, always 
good-tempered, but of delicate health, unable to join 

in the athletic sports of his more robust companions, 



devoted to gardening and pet animals. It is told 
of him that he fainted at the sight of a cut finger ; 
yet he lived to show coolness and self-possession 
amidst the carnage of a stricken field. When in 
his teens, and a commissioned* officer, he could not 
bear to look at a prize fight under his windows. As 
his biographer says, "No common observer would 
have imagined for an instant that the army would 
have been his choice." Yet he made it himself, and 
his first commission dates from 1 790, when he was 
in his nineteenth year, so that he entered later than 
was usual in those days, and he spent some time at 
the military school of Strasburg ^ before he joined 
for duty with the 53rd on i8th January 1791. His 
superiors at once recognised his merits, and he 
is described by his major (Mathews) as an officer 
whose ** talents, disposition, and assiduity are of the 
most promising nature." The same observer strikes 
at once the keynote of the young man's character 
by adding that "his amiable manners, sweetness of 
temper, and uncommon propriety of conduct have 
not only endeared him to the regiment, but produced 
him the most flattering attentions from an extensive 
circle of the first fashion in this country." 

Hill became a captain in 1793 by raising an 
independent company, and while still unattached 

' Beresford also studied there. 


he served as aide-de-camp in succession to Lord 
Mulgrave, Sir David Dundas, and General O'Hara. 
The latter, with far-seeing judgment, predicted that 
** the young man would rise to be one of the first 
soldiers of the age." While serving with Lord 
Mulgrave at the defence of Toulon, he made the 
acquaintance of a Mr. Graham, a volunteer aide- 
de-camp, the future Sir Thomas Graham, Lord 
Lynedoch, who had just then turned to military 
adventure as an anodyne in a terrible bereavement. 
Graham in the following year definitely decided 
to make the army his profession, and raised a 
regiment, the famous 90th, in which he offered Hill 
a majority if he would bring the necessary quota of 
recruits. When a second battalion was added. Hill 
became its lieutenant-colonel, holding the command 
from the year 1795 to 1803, when he was appointed 
a brigadier-general on the staff in Ireland. In those 
eight years he served with his regiment abroad 
and at home, in Ireland, at Isle Dieu, at Gibraltar, 
and with Sir Ralph Abercromby in Egypt. He was 
wounded in the battle of Aboukir, and until he re- 
covered was on board the Foudroyant^ Lord Keith s 
flagship, occupying the same cabin with his general, 
Sir Ralph, when the latter was brought there to 
die of his wounds. Hill next led his regiment to 
Cairo, as part of General Cradock's force ; and we 


may gather how good a regiment it was, how ex- 
cellent a chief it had, from the encomiums of the 
inspecting general, Hope, a future companion in 
arms on a larger stage. ** Considering the service 
your regiment has gone through," Hope remarked 
to its lieutenant-colonel, '*it is impossible that it 
can be more complete than at present. I have 
minutely inspected every part of it, and it is with 
pleasure I tell you that the whole corps does you 
and the officers the greatest credit." Graham also 
wrote from London to congratulate him on the 
good conduct of the regiment. 

Hill's promotion and removal from the 90th 
filled the regiment with the deepest regret ; he was 
endeared to all ranks by the firm yet mild discipline 
he had enforced, and ** his general attention to their 
interests." In his new sphere of duty, as a gene- 
ral charged with the defence of an Irish district 
now threatened with invasion, he was as active yet 
as tactful and considerate as ever. Now, how- 
ever, he was appointed to General Lord Cathcart's 
Copenhagen expedition, and thus was thrown for 
the first time with Sir Arthur Wellesley, and estab- 
lished those friendly relations that subsisted between 
them till death. One of Sir Arthur's earliest letters 
on his receiving the command in Portugal was to 
** my dear Hill," and it went on to say : ** I rejoice 


extremely at the prospect I have before me of 
serving again with you. I hope we shall have 
more to do than we had on the last occasion on 
which we were together." He writes, again, that 
he is full of work, ** but I shall not fail to attend to 
whatever you may write to me." An ever-anxious 
desire to show his confidence in Hill, and to treat 
him with kindliness and consideration, is to be seen 
everywhere in Wellington's correspondence. 

Hill was the first to arrive off Portugal in 1808, 
and it was he who, " in the absence of Lieutenant- 
General Sir Arthur Wellesley," reported to Lord 
Castlereagh that "none of the transports are 
missing, and the troops perfectly healthy." Hill 
commanded a brigade at Roleia and Vimiero ; after 
the Convention of Cintra he joined Sir John Moore, 
and was engaged in the retreat on Corunna. Hill 
was with Hope in the centre during the battle ; he 
covered the embarkation, and his brigade was the 
last on board ship. A very short time elapsed, 
barely enough to visit Shropshire, before he was 
again in Portugal. In March 1809 he was with 
Cradock, and was sent forward with a force towards 
Pombal to watch the French, who were threatening 
the north of Portugal, but with strict injunctions to 
avoid a collision. Sir John Cradock was a timid 
general, and there would have been no crossing of 


the Douro, no Talavera, no Peninsular triumphs, if 
he had continued in command. But a better man 
was close at hand, and Wellesley, in his prompt 
advance against Soult, was glad to give Hill a fore- 
most place. Hill was the first to come in touch 
with the French ; he crossed the Douro with the 
earliest boatloads of men, and the stout defence of 
the Seminary, which paved the way to success, was 
made under his personal control. At Talavera again 
Hill held the hill on the left, that was long the 
chief point of danger, and was wounded in the head. 
After this Hill was advanced by Wellington to 
the position he long held, that practically of second 
in command. Wellington, in laying his plans for 
the defence of Portugal, divided his whole force into 
two separate corps, one of which he kept under 
his own command, the other he offered to Hill. 
" I will not make any arrangements," he wrote, 
** either as to the troops that are to comprise it or 
as to the officer who is to command it, without 
offering the command to you. At the same time, 
I will not separate you from the army and from my 
own immediate command without consulting your 
wishes." Hill frankly and readily accepted the pro- 
posal made him (as he put it) **in the handsomest 
manner." *' I am aware," he goes on, *'of the im- 
portance of the situation I am placed in, and trust 


I shall' be attended with the same good fortune 
I have hitherto experienced." Henceforth he was 
continually employed in more or less independent 
operations. After the withdrawal into Portugal, he 
held the right flank, at first at Abrantes, on the 
Tagus, and then more in advance across the river 
about Portalegre, where he watched Elvas and 
Badajoz. When Massena invaded Portugal, Hill 
faced Regnier until it was certain that no move 
would be made along the valley of the Tagus; 
then, anticipating his orders, he crossed the river, 
and by forced marches joined Wellington. During 
the long defence of Torres Vedras, Hill was 
again the guardian of the right flank, and held 
the Tagus, when by his ceaseless vigilance he pre- 
vented Massena from bridging the river. 

Again, in 1811, on his return from sick leave to 
England, he won on his own account the action of 
Arroyo de los Molinos, where he surprised Gerard 
after a night march, and almost destroyed him — 
**a triumph for our general (Hill), a triumph all 
his own. He gained great credit for this well- 
conducted enterprise, and he gained what to one 
of his mild, kind, humane character was still more 
valuable, a bloodless victory."^ The surprise of 
Almaraz was another operation entirely his own. 

* Moyle Sherer, " Recollections." 


He had been detached as usual to make head 
against Soult, while Wellington was engaged in 
the reduction of the fortresses of Ciudad Rodrigo 
and Badajoz. After their capture, when Wellington 
was resolved to advance against Marmont on the 
Tormes, it became essential that the one remaining 
passage by which Soult, coming from the south, 
could cross the Tagus and join Marmont, should 
be closed. This was by the bridge of boats at 
Almaraz, which was defended by strong works. 
Hill, after clever feints to deceive Soult, fell 
upon Almaraz by forced marches from Badajoz, 
and seized it. The value of this achievement was 
fully seen when the bridge of Alcantara, lower 
down the Tagus, was repaired, and the corps of 
Hill became by fourteen days' march nearer Wel- 
lington than Soult, in Andalucia, was to Marmont. 
While Wellington carried on the operations that 
included the battle of Salamanca and were fol- 
lowed by the entry into Madrid, Hill maintained 
his useful r61e of holding the south, and was 
across the Guadiana at Zafra. After the victory 
he was, if Soult showed no signs of retreating, to 
come to terms with him ; but the general move- 
ment of the French was one of concentration to the 
eastward, where King Joseph, Soult, and Suchet 
were presently combined. Wellington now called 


Hill to him, and gave him charge of Madrid, while 
he moved northward to undertake the siege of 
Burgos, as already described.^ In the famous retreat 
Hill evacuated Madrid promptly, having first de- 
stroyed the bridge of Aranjuez, and crossing the 
Guadarrama mountains by the royal road, reached 
Arevalo, where he was again in touch with Welling- 
ton, and co-operated with him in the final with- 
drawal behind Giudad Rodrigo. Then Hill once 
more assumed his post upon the right flank, and 
spent the winter about Coria, where he watched the 
Pass of Perales, and was within easy reach of the 

In all these important movements Hill displayed 
admirable qualities. Too high praise cannot be 
accorded to his promptitude, his daring, the sure 
and skilful handling of his troops. He was espe- 
cially remarkable, too, for his loyal support of his 
great chief ; he seemed to know Wellington's plans 
almost by intuition, at least he most readily under- 
stood them, and how he could best further and 
support them by subordinating his own personal 
and subsidiary operations. As I have said on a 
previous page, Wellington entirely trusted Hill, 
and it is to be seen in all his correspondence ; the 
chief took the lieutenant often into his confidence, 

* See ante, p. 99. 


not exactly seeking his advice, but keeping him 
informed of his most secret plans. Wellington was 
ever ready to acknowledge the assistance he got 
from Hill. ** Nothing could be more satisfactory to 
me than all you did," he writes in 181 1 ; and after 
the affair at Arroyo de los Molinos strongly recom- 
mended him to the Prince Regent for some ** mark 
of favour," which was followed in due course with 
the knighthood of the Bath ; and the affair was 
mentioned, when Parliament met, in the speech 
from the throne. He was Sir Rowland Hill at the 
time of the surprise of Almaraz. 

In the final advance from Portugal, Hill was for 
a time still alone ; but he came under Wellington's 
command when the army was united before the river 
Ebro, and in the turning movements that ended 
with Vittoria. In that famous action Hill worked 
out his own attack, but under Wellingfton s eye ; 
it was generally the same in the Pyrenees, although 
the army had been now formed into three principal 
corps, commanded respectively by Hill, Beresford, and 
Graham (who was presently succeeded by Hope). 
HilFs chief exploit was the victory of St. Pierre, a 
battle which he fought single-handed against Soult, 
and won in spite of the defection of two of his own 
colonels at the critical moment. He played the 
soldier as well as the general, rallying the broken 


regiments, and using his reserves with decision. 
"He knew indeed that the 6th Division (sent by 
Wellington to his aid) was close at hand, and the 
battle might be fought over again ; but, like a 
thorough soldier, he was resolved to win his own 
fight with his own troops if he could ; and he did 
so, after a manner that in less eventful times would 
have rendered him the hero of a nation." 

Hill richly merited the affections and devoted 
support of his troops. '* The great foundation of his 
popularity," wrote one who knew him well, "was his 
sterling personal worth and his heroic spirit ; but 
his popularity was increased and strengthened as 
soon as he was seen. He was the very picture of 
an English country gentleman. To those soldiers 
who came from the rural districts of England he re- 
presented home ; his fresh complexion, placid face, 
kind eyes, kind voice, and the total absence of 
all parade or noise in his habits, delighted them 
. . . his kind attention to all the wants and com- 
forts of his men, his visits to the sick in hospital, 
his vigilant protection of the poor country people, 
his just severity to marauders, his generous and 
humane treatment of such prisoners and wounded 
as fell into his hands, made him a place in the 
hearts of his soldiery." He was always thinking 
of his men, and no better trait is preserved than 



his shortening the day's drill when his corps was 
being paraded, saying, "It is too hot ; we must not 
fatigue the men." The story goes that a whisper 
ran through the ranks, ** Bless him ! There he is ! 
Father Hill again." 

Hill was created a peer when he returned from 
Spain, and might have gone at once into another 
campaign. He was offered the command of the 
expedition about to be despatched to America, but 
refused it. When Napoleon broke loose froip Elba, 
Hill was one of the first officers in the field. He 
was summoned to the Cabinet, and asked if he 
could start without delay that very night for 

News had arrived that Louis XVHL, having 
fled from France, was at Ostend, and that some 
premature collision might take place upon the 
frontier. It was Hill's mission to **keep all right" 
until the arrival of Wellington from Vienna ; to 
take no position that was too advanced, to avoid 
any serious engagement. The part Hill played in 
the short and decisive campaign need not be de- 
tailed at any length. In the great battle his corps 
was posted on the right and right centre. His 
horse was killed under him, pierced in five places, 
and rolled over him, bruising him severely. He 
remained in France during the occupation by the 


allied troops, and commanded the whole of the 
British infantry, 25,000 men. 

Lord Hill retired for a time into private life, 
but in his seclusion he was repeatedly asked to 
return to active work. He was offered the post 
of Master-General of the Ordnance, then that of 
commander-in-chief in India, but he declined both 
offices. He did not care for purely sedentary 
employment, and his health was too delicate for 
India. At length the Duke of Wellington became 
Prime Minister, and was forced to surrender the 
chief command of the army. The post was 
at once offered to Hill in the most flattering 
terms, and accepted with gratitude and diffi- 
dence. One of his first and most pleasing tasks 
was to give a command to his old friend and 
comrade, Lord Lynedoch, the colonel who had 
made him a major ; he retained Lord Fitz Roy 
Somerset as his military secretary, and his dis- 
posal of patronage was at all times fair and im- 
partial. The close attention he gave to his work 
gradually impaired his health, and in 1842 he felt 
constrained to resign his office, and he died the 
same year. The Duke of Wellington's letter of 
condolence is worth inserting here, as it bears upon 
the unjust charges made against him for want of 
due appreciation of those who served under him. 


*' You may conceive," writes the Duke to the 
new Lord Hill/ "better than I can express how 
much I have felt his loss. More than thirty-five 
years have elapsed since I had the satisfaction of 
being first connected with and assisted by him in 
the public service ; and I must say that from that 
moment up to the latest period of his valuable and 
honourable life, nothing ever occurred to interrupt 
for one moment the friendly and intimate relations 
which subsisted between us." 

' A nephew. Rowland Hill never married, and the peerage was specially 
continued to his brother's children. 



Birth — First commission and early service — Egypt, Buenos Ayres, 
Madeira, Portugal — Given command of Portuguese army — Its re- 
organisation and improvement — Aided by excellent officers — Beresford 
and Albuera — Wellington's opinion of Beresford — His confidence in 
him — Later services — Enters political life. 

BERESFORD, a natural son of the first 
Marquis of Waterford, was born in 1768; 
educated at home, and at the military 
school of Strasburg. When seventeen he was ap- 
pointed ensign in the 6th Regiment, and served 
with it almost immediately in Halifax, Nova Scotia. 
He got his company unattached in 1791, after six 
years, and was appointed to the 69th. He was 
at the defence of Toulon, and at the taking of 
Corsica. Returning to England in 1794, he was 
given the command of a regiment raised upon 
his fathers estates, which was soon broken up, 
and he became lieutenant-colonel of the famous 
88th, or Connaught Rangers. ** Christian's storm" 
dispersed the transports on which the 88th were 

embarked for the West Indies, and when it was 



got together again, Beresford did garrison duty 
with it in Jersey until ordered to India in 1799. 
He missed Seringapatam, but joined Baird's ex- 
pedition to the Red Sea, and on the desert 
march from Cosseir to the Nile commanded a 
brigade. On his return to England in 1803, he 
became a ** full " colonel, and served at home until 
chosen to command one brigade of the expedition 
sent under Baird to recapture the Cape of Good 
Hope. Thence Beresford accompanied Admiral 
Popham to South America, where they seized 
Buenos Ayres, only to lose it again by surrender. 
Beresford defended the place for three days, then 
capitulated. This misfortune was followed by the 
disgraceful disaster at Monte Video, for which, 
however, Beresford was in nowise blamed. But 
he was held six months as a prisoner of war. 

In 1807 Beresford returned to England, and 
was sent to seize Madeira in the name of the king 
of Portugal. He held the command of that island 
for six months, utilising his time so well that he 
acquired the Portuguese language, a cause largely 
contributing to his future success. A peace com- 
mand was not much in his line, and he gladly 
left Madeira to take a brigade under Wellesley in 
Portugal, where, after the battle of Vimiero, he 
was commandant of Lisbon. In April 1808, after 


twenty-three years' service, he became a major- 
general — no bad record — and was appointed to 
command a division under Sir John Moore, He 
took part in the memorable retreat on Corunna, 
and acted with the reserve in rendering valuable 
service in the constant contests with the pursuers. 
He fought at Corunna, and was one of the last to 
embark after the action. 

Now came Beresford s opportunity ; he reaped 
the reward of his diligence at Madeira. When a 
British commander was wanted for the disorganised 
Portuguese forces, the choice fell upon Beresford, 
largely on account of his knowledge of the lan- 
guage, and of his now large local experience in 
the country. No better selection could have been 
made. He exercised his powers wisely, tactfully, 
but with a strong, firm hand. When he assumed 
command, the Portuguese army was at the lowest 
point of "degradation, meanness, and bigotry." 
Neither honour, honesty, nor bravery was to be 
found among any serving in its ranks. Some of 
the officers were absent in civil situations, others 
were servants in great families ; every regiment 
had its patron saint, who was borne on the 
strength as a captain or major, and his pay was 
drawn by the monks of some convent raised in 
his honour. 


Beresford in his first proclamation to the Por- 
tuguese gave them the credit of possessing the 
military spirit, but latent and undeveloped, and 
appealed to their patriotism to submit to disci- 
pline in order to meet their enemy on equal terms. 
Then fixing his headquarters at Thomar, he col- 
lected the regiments together, and recast them on 
British models, using "stern but wholesome rigour," 
enforcing obedience and orderly conduct, and in- 
fusing the true soldierly spirit. The lines of re- 
organisation had, however, been sketched out by 
Wellington himself. A first elementary principle 
was that the army should have English officers at 
its head. The staff, the commissariat in particular, 
must be British ; their proportion to the rest of 
the army must be large, in view of the number of 
detached posts that would have to be occupied, 
and the difficulty of providing and distributing 
supplies. The Portuguese officers who were re- 
tained, mostly in the junior ranks, were to be 
placed on a better footing. Their pay was to be 
increased ; *' without that it is vain to hope for 
much exertion from them." Wellington pointed 
out that for many years they had done little or 
no duty ; they had occupied always the same gar- 
rison town, and had lived with their own families 
at home. If old abuses were to be removed, they 



must have enough pay, and be enabled to main- 
tain themselves decently. Wellington, in advising 
Beresford how to proceed, indicated exactly what 
was most needed in the Portuguese army. It was 
not discipline properly so called; "what they want 
are the habits and spirit of soldiers, the habits of 
command on the one side and of obedience on the 
other, mutual confidence between officers and men, 
and, above all, a determination in the superiors to 
obey the spirit of the orders they receive, let what 
will be the consequence, and the spirit to tell the 
true cause if they do not." 

An independent witness — not a military officer, 
it is true — speaks in high terms of the Portuguese 
troops as they appeared to him in 1812. "They 
are in the highest order ; the men really look at 
least equal to ours, better than some ; the officers 
are well dressed and gay, and have the advantage 
of language, the infantry and the Ca9adores in par- 
ticular." Their marching is very "fresh"; "they 
come in even to the last mile singing along the 
road. The cavalry are not nearly so good, and are 
not, I suppose, so much to be trusted . . . they 
are called the Vamuses, from what passed last year 
when they ran off with a general cry of * Vamus.' 
The infantry are termed Valerosas, from their 
having hugged and cheered each other early in the 


war, when they had for the first time behaved well,^ 
and beat off the French, each patting the other on 
the head, and saying, ' Mucha Valerosa!' I hope 
the latter will support their name, and, indeed, they 
are disposed to do so, for we have put so much 
beef into both men and officers, that they are quite 
different animals, and will not submit at all to what 
they used to do, even from the English." * 

Yet at an earlier date, when the newly raised 
levies were first incorporated with the British bri- 
gades, they were not thought of highly. Costello, 
the rifleman who served through the Peninsula with 
the 95th, describes the ist and 2nd Ca9adores in 
very uncomplimentary terms when they first joined 
the Light Division. "These fellows I never had any 
opinion of from the very first moment I saw them. 
They^were the dirtiest and noisiest brutes I ever 
came across. Historians of the day have given 
them great credit, but during the whole of the 
Peninsular war, or at least the time they were with 
us, I never knew them to perform one gallant act. 
On the line of march they often reminded me 
of a band of strollers. They were very fond of 
gambling, and every halt we made was sure to 
find them squatted, and with cards in their hands." 
Costello was perhaps a little prejudiced, as the rank 

^ At Busaco. See ante, p. 8i« ' Larpent, 14a 


and file sometimes are, especially against foreigners. 
But superior officers had also their doubts of the 
Portuguese, for we find Wellington writing to 
Craufurd in 1810, ** I hope you will find the Ca^a- 
dores better than you expected;" and the com- 
mander of the Light Division was not, as a fact, 
disappointed in them. 

The creation and development of the Portu- 
guese army, whether or not it became a perfect 
fighting machine, yet gave many British officers 
commands and opportunities they might not have 
otherwise enjoyed. Many good men won their 
spurs under Beresford. He was always ready to 
accept volunteers of the right sort ; thus George 
Napier would have gone to him for the chance of 
a regimental command, had not Craufurd refused 
to part with him, Dickson, as we have seep, first 
showed his talents with the Portuguese artillery. 
D'Urban and Hardinge rose high, thanks mainly 
to their early employment on Beresford's staff. 
The first D'Urban was quartermaster-general of 
the Portuguese army ; a trained and experienced 
officer, who had served with Abercromby, and had 
been superintendent of the junior military college 
at High Marlow. When Sir Robert Wilson 
organised the Lusitanian Legion, D' Urban joined 
him ; then his knowledge of Portuguese, and general 


staff experience, recommended him to Beresford 
when the new army was being formed. He served 
as quartermaster-general through the whole of the 
war, never once leaving the Peninsula, and being 
engaged in almost every affair. He remained in 
Portugal after the British army left, and so missed 
Waterloo ; but in after life he held many important 
posts, especially as Governor of Barbadoes, and 
afterwards of the Cape of Good Hope, where he 
annexed Natal after ejecting the rebellious boors, 
and gave his name to the chief town of the 

Henry Hardinge had a still more distinguished 
career in after life, but it may be doubted whether 
he would have gone so far to the front but for the 
Portuguese army. He also had learnt staff duties 
at High Wycombe under General Jarry, and he was 
deputy assistant quartermaster-general to Sir Brent 
Spencer's force, and was with it in the campaign 
of Vimiero, where he was wounded. But he joined 
Moore for the retreat, and his activity at the em- 
barkation of the troops at Corunna first gained him 
the goodwill of Beresford, who secured him at 
once for the Portuguese army, in which he held 
the post of deputy under D' Urban. Hardinge was 
present in every engagement, and ever won golden 
opinions. His conduct at Albuera will be referred 


to directly/ and Wellington thought so well of him 
that he wrote Beresford once : " Send me Hardinge 
or some staff-officer who has intelligence, to whom 
I can talk about the concerns of the Portuguese 
army." Hardinge, in the campaign of Waterloo, 
was British Commissioner at the Prussian head- 
quarters, and lost his arm at Ligny, a misfortune 
that gained him the kindly sobriquet of "the one- 
handed miscreant" from Daniel O'Connell in after 
years. Sir Henry Hardinge in 1820 entered poli- 
tical life as member for Durham ; he twice held 
office as Irish Secretary, and gained reputation as 
a ''plain, straightforward, just, and excellent man 
of business." Wellington thought highly of him 
to the last,* and at his urgent recommendation 
Hardinge was made Governor-General of India, 
where he is remembered as one of the best Vice- 
roys that reigned. At the Duke's death Lord Har- 
dinge became commander-in-chief of the army. 

To return to Beresford. The Marshal, although 
specially in command of the Portuguese, held by 
virtue of that rank, and that of local lieutenant- 
general in the British army, a place next to Wel- 
lington, very much to the discontent of officers 
who were actually his senior. More than one 

* See post, p. 306. 

* Sir Henry Hardinge was Wellington's second in the duel with Lord 


general resigned his command in consequence, and 
all affected resented the supersession. Wellington 
was so much hampered and annoyed that in one 
of his despatches he says : ** I wish Beresford would 
resign his local rank ; the embarrassments and ill 
blood it causes are inconceivable." Yet in the first 
phases of the war Beresford took no very active 
part. He was busy with his organisation, and it 
prospered so well that in 18 10 Wellington was able 
to bring some of the best Portuguese regiments 
into line with the British troops, and they rendered 
excellent service at Busaco. In the following year 
( 1 8 1 1 ) Beresford was afforded his first opportunity 
of distinction as an independent general fighting on 
his own field. During Hill's absence in England 
he was called to the command of the corps, com- 
posed of the 2nd and 3rd Divisions, with Lay's 
cavalry and four Portuguese brigades, which was 
to invest Badajoz and check the movements of 
Soult for its relief. Beresford seems to have in- 
spired little confidence; he was in character and 
bearing a strong contrast to his predecessor ; those 
who loved their "Daddy" Hill would not yield the 
same allegiance to the brusque, boisterous Irishman. 
In the cavalry action of Campo Mayor he suffered 
the 14th Light Dragoons to be drawn too far away, 

and to be almost cut to pieces. Then Soult came up 



and forced on the battle of Albuera, when Beresford 
yielded to the urgent appeals of his officers to stand 
his ground. The position at Albuera was behind 
the river of that name, and Soult s main attack was 
on Beresford s right, where the Spaniards turned 
tail, and the few English were outnumbered and all 
but overpowered. Happily Colonel Hardinge had 
ordered up, on his own authority. Cole's fresh and 
unbroken division to the wavering right flank, and 
snatched victory, when it seemed assured, from 
Soult s grasp. Napier s account of the close of the 
action deserves to be written in letters of gold. It 
is one of the finest bursts of impassioned prose in 
the English language. 

Albuera has been called one of the most des- 
perate and sanguinary of battles. Soult, although 
beaten back, showed himself greatly superior to 
Beresford as a tactical leader. Napier s strictures 
upon the English general are very severe, exces- 
sively so perhaps. " Beresford had studied his 
own field of battle . • . and yet occupied it so as 
to render defeat almost certain ; his infantry were 
not in hand, his inferiority in guns and cavalry was 
not compensated by entrenchments. He had supe- 
rior numbers of infantry, on a position which was 
contracted to three miles ; yet ten thousand never 
fired a shot, and three times the day was lost 


and won, the allies being always fewest in number 
at the decisive point. . . . The person of the 
general-in-chief was seen everywhere, a gallant 
soldier ! — the mind of the great commander no- 

Beresford protested fiercely against this estimate 
of his generalship, and a bitter controversy ensued, 
in which the practised writer got the advantage. 
Napier struck the last blow in reminding Beresford 
that he claimed to be greater than Alexander or 
Caesar, in that he declared he had never made a 
mistake. Wellington (who, as we shall see, had 
the very highest opinion of Beresford) excused him 
on the ground that he had not the habit and experi- 
ence of command on the field — precisely Napier s 
criticism. Wellington gave Beresford carte blanche; 
he was to fight or not, as he thought best at 
the time ; but adds, "Had I been there " (he was 
delayed by an accident at Almeida), "we should 
have made a great thing of it." Beresford had 
gladly welcomed his chiefs expected advent. "He 
wrote me," says Wellington, "to the effect that 
he was delighted I was coming ; that he could not 
stand the slaughter about him nor the vast respon- 
sibility. His letter was quite in a desponding 
tone. It was brought to me next day, I think, by 
General Arbuthnot when I was at dinner at Elvas, 


and I said directly, * This won't do ; write me down 
a victory.* The despatch (about Albuera) was 
altered accordingly." 

It is somewhat curious that, in spite of Albuera, 
Wellington had the very highest opinion of Beres- 
ford. After Salamanca, where the Marshal was 
severely wounded, Wellington paid him a great 
compliment by urging that Sir Stapleton Cotton 
should not be given a peerage, lest it might pique 
Beresford into throwing up his Portuguese com- 
mand. "All I can tell you is," he writes Lord 
Bathurst, **that the ablest man I have yet seen 
with the army, and that one having the largest 
views, is Beresford. They tell me that when I 
am not present he wants decision . . . but I am 
quite certain he is the only person capable of con- 
ducting a large concern." Lord Albemarle tells the 
story that when Wellington was asked at a dinner- 
table in the Peninsula upon whom the command 
should devolve in case of accidents, he named — but 
not without hesitation — ** Beresford." Some sur- 
prise was expressed, and he went on : ** I see what 
you mean by your looks. If it was a question of 
handling troops, some of you fellows might do as 
well, nay, better than he ; but what we want now 
is some one to feed our troops, and I know no one 
fitter for the purpose than Beresford." 


There are passages in the Wellington despatches 
that fully bear out this opinion. ** I can have no ob- 
jection," he writes, **to give Beresford any power; 
on the contrary, the greater power he has, the better 
it will be for the public service." Again : *' It is im- 
possible for two persons to understand each other 
better than Beresford and I. He is two miles from 
this, and I see him every day, and I believe we 
take pretty nearly the same view of every trans- 
action." The Duke, whenever it was possible, 
consulted Beresford with regard to projected opera- 
tions, and he was heard to say that there was **no 
one like the Marshal for seeing the weak point in 
a plan." One of the glimpses Larpent gives us 
of the two generals, Wellington and Beresford, 
walking up and down in close conference in the 
narrow street of a dirty little Spanish town, shows 
how deep was the connection between them. On 
another occasion Wellington writes : " I may ven- 
ture, however, to assure you that, with the excep- 
tion of Marshal Beresford, who, I believe, concurs 
entirely in all my opinions respecting the state of 
the contest and the measures to be adopted here, 
there is no man in the army who has taken half 
the pains upon the subject (the conduct of the war) 
than I have." Beresford, whenever it was possible, 
accompanied Wellington on his reconnaissances. 


which, as we know, were often of the most daring 
character and pushed very far to the front. The 
Duke said afterwards that he relied greatly on 
the Marshals quick eye for country, and generally 
on his sagacity. "If there be a weak point in 
any plan, Beresford is the man to see it," sums up 
his opinion. 

After Toulouse, where he restored the battle 
when it had been endangered by Pictons rash 
advance, Beresford (now a peer of the realm) re- 
turned to Portugal, and thus missed Waterloo. 
There had been some talk of bringing over a 
portion of the Portuguese army to Belgium, but 
nothing came of it, no doubt to Lord Beresford s 
great chagrin. His position in Portugal after the 
war was by no means enviable ; petty squabbles 
and ill-usage both of officers and men were very 
rife, and Beresford paid two visits to Rio Janeiro, 
where the royal family still resided, seeking redress 
for grievances, and when there in 1817 he was 
able by his vigorous measures to quell a serious 
rebellion. He left Portugal in 1820, and entered 
upon a short political career. Although elected 
M.P. for Waterford in 1811, and again in 181 2, 
he had never taken his seat. But now he entered 
the House of Peers, and, with the loyalty of a 
soldier who had served with Caesar, strenuously 


supported his old chief in all his political action. 
He was advanced to the rank of Viscount, and 
was at one time Master-General of the Ordnance, 
but retired into private life, and married in 1832 
the wealthy widow of " Anastasius" Hope. 



Advanced age on entering the service — Early life — A Scotch laird — 
Terrible bereavements — Raises 90th Light Infantry — Serves in Italy ; 
and with Moore at Corunna — Rank made substantive — Battle of 
Barrosa — Ciudad Rodrigo — Gallicia — Vittoria — San Sebastian — 
Bergen op Zoom — Long life. 

THE case of Thomas Graham, Lord Lynedoch, 
is a curious contradiction of some modem 
theories in regard to military command. 
It is held nowadays, somewhat obstinately, and 
with a narrowness that ignores clear proof to the 
contrary, that youthful vigour is essential to good 
generalship, that little can be expected from the 
leader advanced in years. Yet we can point to 
Charles Napier, who won his first battle at sixty- 
one ; Radetzky, who made the successful campaign 
of Novara at eighty-four. Sir Thomas Graham 
was over sixty when he commanded a brigade 
at Walcheren, and sixty-four when he took San 
Sebastian. Some time after that, it is true, his 
health broke down, but the hardships of campaign- 
ing in the Pyrenees were exceptionally severe. 


RAISES THE 90™ 313 

Again, Graham controverts the commonly received 
opinion that it is essential to serve through all 
the grades to become proficient in the leading of 
troops. He jumped straight into the rank of 
lieutenant-colonel at forty-eight, and sixteen years 
later was a major-general commanding a brigade in 
the field. He was, in fact, a born soldier, whose 
genius for war came out by accident late in life, 
but was then incontestably proved. 

A Scotch laird, born in 1748, of old family, 
with broad estates, he lived the life of a country 
gentleman, devoted to field sports, wrapped up 
entirely in his love for the beautiful wife whose 
well-known portrait is one of the finest of Gains- 
borough's triumphs.^ When she was lost to him 
prematurely, and to his intense grief, he essayed 
to forget by seeking military adventure. Graham 
served as volunteer aide-de-camp to Lord Mul- 
grave at Toulon in 1792, being then forty-four. 
He showed so much military capacity that he was 
advised to raise a regiment, and did so in 1794, 
the Perthshire Volunteers, afterwards the famous 
90th Light Infantry, a regiment which has given 
many distinguished officers to the British army, 
and two commanders-in-chief.^ Later he added a 

^ This picture, when Mrs. Graham died, he bricked up in a wall, and it 
was only brought to light again long years after his bereavement. 
2 Lord Hill and Lord Wolseley. 


second battalion, of which Hill became lieutenant- 
colonel,^ and now claimed with some show of 
reason that his own rank should be made sub- 
stantive. But the king (George III.) had set 
his face against giving high permanent status to 
officers who had not passed through all the junior 
grades. Graham's politics, which were of a Liberal 
bias, helped to gain him this refusal ; but, although 
he felt it bitterly, he accepted the post of military 
attach^ with the Austrian army in Italy, and shared 
its defeats at the vigorous hands of the young 
Napoleon. Nelson entrusted Graham with the 
duty of blockading the fortress of Valetta, which 
he performed until the French surrendered the 
island to Sir Ralph Abercromby. Graham served 
then in Egypt, and was present at the battle of 
Alexandria. He was still colonel of his regiment, 
the 90th, and would not vacate it, resolved to 
lose no chance of active employment. With this 
idea he accompanied Moore to Sweden, and was 
again his aide-de-camp at Corunna. It was his 
gallant chiefs dying wish that Graham should be 
confirmed in his rank in the army, and on the 
4th March 1809 Graham heard from the Duke of 
York, then commander-in-chief, that he had not 
failed to submit to the king "the communication 

^ See ante, p. 284. 


made .to me by General Hope, at the dying request 
of the late Sir John Moore, regarding the eminent 
and important services performed by you in Spain, 
. . . and his Majesty has been pleased to direct 
that the established custom of the army may be 
departed from by your being promoted to the rank 
of major-general." 

Graham accepted this tardy acknowledgment of 
his services as ample compensation for the many 
years of bitter disappointment. It was, as he said, 
a high reward to have merited the good word of 
such a man as Moore. Now, the seniority given 
him was that he would have had if his first appoint- 
ment of lieutenant -colonel had been substantive, 
and not merely temporary rank. It put him in a 
fine position, and, with his other claims, entitled 
him to further employment. So we find him in 
the wretched Walcheren business in command of 
a brigade, and afterwards, with the local rank of 
lieutenant-general, in command of the British 
garrison at Cadiz in 18 10- 11. 

Graham was now to have an opportunity of 
independent command in the field. The French 
had long besieged Cadiz, but Soult had been drawn 
away to invest Badajoz, and had left Victor alone 
to enforce the blockade of Cadiz. Graham pro- 
posed to fall upon Victor, taking him in reverse, 


and sending a force of 5000 men round by sea. 
He landed at Tarifa, and joining with La Pefia, 
the Spanish general, attacked the French at Bar- 
rosa. Deserted by his allies at the most critical 
moment, Graham found himself in a position of 
imminent danger, out of which he saw no escape 
but by a prompt offensive. The ready, reckless 
gallantry of his troops, who closed in to fight 
almost as they were, without any regular formation, 
gave him the victory, but only after a sanguinary 
conflict. He had but 4000 men against 9000, 
and La Penas Spaniards, although largely rein- 
forced, looked on inactive throughout. Graham was 
warmly congratulated by Wellington, who said that 
the victory would certainly have raised the siege 
of Cadiz had the Spaniards played their part ; '* I 
am equally certain . . . that if you had not decided 
with the utmost promptitude to attack the enemy, 
and if your own attack had not been a most 
vigorous one, the whole allied army would have 
been lost." 

Graham after Barrosa joined Wellington, and 
was given command of the ist Division. He 
contributed to the successful capture of Ciudad 
Rodrigo by surprising the convent of Santa Cruz 
six days before the final assault He covered the 
siege of Badajoz, but health compelled him to pay 



a visit to England, thus losing him a share in the 
battle of Salamanca. But Graham returned to his 
post in January 181 3, and was warmly welcomed 
by Wellington. ** I was happy to learn . . . you 
were able to return to us, and hope we may make 
a good campaign of it. ... I propose to take the 
field as early as I can, and at least to put myself 
in fortune's way." Graham played a leading part 
in the great advance from Portugal in 181 3, for 
he led the turning movement through the rugged 
mountain districts of the Tras os Montes, in com- 
mand of the British left. He was entrusted again, 
still on the left, with the outflanking attack at 
Vittoria, which aimed at the French line of retreat 
and cut them from it. Wellington gave him the im- 
mediate control of the siege of San Sebastian, and 
it may be that the sturdy old man was forced into 
errors against his judgment — errors that led to the 
failure of the first assault. But it was his tenacious 
spirit that achieved the final capture, by concen- 
trating the whole fire of his heavy guns, which 
destroyed the curtain and gave an opening for 
the stormers. Soon after this he again left the 
Peninsula, being unequal to the excessive fatigues 
of the campaign. But he had not yet finally 
sheathed his sword ; for when the Dutch rose 
against the French, a British expedition was sent 


to their assistance, and it was placed under the 
command of Sir Thomas Graham. While he 
was investing Antwerp, he conceived it possible 
to carry the neighbouring fortress of Bergen op 
Zoom by a coup de main. The attack, however, 

Sir Thomas Graham was created a peer at the 
peace, and became Lord Lynedoch ; but he fought 
no more. Retiring full of honours, and with a 
mind cured by great exploits from grief and melan- 
choly, he lived on to a green old age, mostly at 
his own Perthshire home, Balgowan, where he 
shot and fished, and entertained his comrades and 
friends, until 1847, when he died, at the advanced 
age of ninety-six. 



Picton's temper — Unfounded statements of his disagreements — Duke's 
high opinion of him — The charge of cruelty in Trinidad — Torture of 
Louise Calderon — Verdict of guilty never set aside, although Picton 
absolved — His sympathisers — The Duke of Queensberry — Picton's 
youth and early services — Slow promotion— Peninsula and the fight- 
ing 3rd — "Brave old Picton" — The commissary — Waterloo— Death 
on the field. 

WELLINGTON called Picton -a rough, 
foul-mouthed devil as ever lived," and 
Napier has given colour to the picture 
when contrasting him with Craufurd, after the Coa : 
*' The stern countenance, robust frame, saturnine 
complexion, caustic speech, and austere demeanour 
of the first (Picton), promised little sympathy with 
the short thick figure, dark flashing eyes, quick 
movements, and fiery temper of the second ; nor 
did they often meet without a quarrel." The last 
statement is not borne out by other evidence. An 
officer high upon Picton's staff declares that the 
one general *• never expressed himself in any but 
the most friendly terms of Craufurd." ** I certainly 

upon one occasion heard him observe, * That d d 



fighting fellow Craufurd will some day get us into 
a scrape,' but this was not uttered at all in an un- 
friendly tone." Napier also implies that Picton was 
on bad terms with Wellingfton. ** It was common 
opinion," he says, "that the Duke and Picton did 
not get on smoothly together when they happened 
to have personal intercourse, which was seldom." 
Wellington himself entirely repudiated this later 
in life, and assured Picton's biographer, " not only 
that I was not on bad terms with Sir Thomas 
Picton, but that in the whole course of the period 
during which I was in relation with him, I do not 
recollect even a difference of opinion, much less 
anything of the nature of a quarrel." The Duke 
goes on to say that he had asked for Picton to be 
sent out to him in the Peninsula, encouraged to do 
so by the report he had had of his fitness from 
General Miranda, who had known him in the West 
Indies; and that "he had never reason to regret" 
— on the contrary, numberless reasons to rejoice — 
that he had solicited his appointment. " It was 
made at the moment when an unmerited prejudice 
existed against Sir Thomas Picton, the recollection 
of which was effaced by his services." 

Picton's temper might well have been soured, his 
demeanour affected, by the painful affair to which 
his great leader refers. He was nearly sacrificed to 


the emotional philanthropy that accepts an over- 
coloured story as gospel, and is ready to con- 
demn a public servant too hastily, on imperfect 
grounds. Picton was arraigned by public opinion 
for an offence the mere suspicion of which will 
always rouse indignation in England. He was 
charged with cruelty — the harsh, inhuman abuse of 
his powers as a proconsul ; and the story as it was 
put forward might well inflame the public mind. 
The blame rests with those who by malevolence 
.and mis-statement sought to sully Picton's good 
name — chiefly with Colonel FuUarton, a co-com- 
missioner in the government of Trinidad, who 
greedily seized upon a small matter, and exag- 
gerated an excusable error into a shameful and 
atrocious offence. Picton was accused of having 
tortured a poor girl who would not give evidence 
in a case of theft ; to have ** applied the question," 
or ordered it to be applied, and in the form of 
** picketing," by which the victim is compelled to 
stand upon a pointed peg with one foot, the body 
being raised by the arms from the ground. The 
act was not denied, but it could be in a measure 
justified, and it was in accordance with the existing 
law in Trinidad. 

The case arose out of the robbery of one Ruiz, 
a tobacconist, to the amount of ;^400, and suspicion 



fell upon a man who was known to be in familiar 
intercourse with the female servant and housekeeper 
of Ruiz, a young girl named Louise Calderon. 
She was arrested and examined, but would not 
speak. Whereupon, following the usual procedure 
on the island, the judge applied to Picton, the 
supreme authority, for leave to apply the question. 
Picton consented, and thus laid himself open to a 
criminal indictment, which took its course later in 
England, where he was arrested and tried in the 
Court of Kings Bench in 1806. The prosecution 
was of the most rancorous kind ; the facts were 
grossly distorted, and by no means justified the 
impassioned language of counsel. It was asserted 
that Louise Calderon was under fourteen years of 
age, whereas it is certain that she was a good deal 
older; it was alleged that the torture (the picket- 
ing) was applied with much severity, that the girl 
fell down, in appearance dead, and there was no 
physician or surgeon to assist. Yet the truth was, 
that but little pain was inflicted, that confession was 
almost immediate, that the girl was so little affected 
that she walked, with a cigar in her mouth, from 
the gaol, more than half a mile, to the scene of the 
robbery, where she pointed out the manner in which 
it had been effected. There had been a surgeon 
present at the picketing ; there was no necessity for 


one then or afterwards, as the feet were not swollen 
or injured. The rebutting evidence was so strong 
that no verdict would have been given had not 
the prosecution brought forward a witness, Vargas, 
from Trinidad, to swear that the Spanish law — the 
law under which the question was applied — was not 
really in force in the island. On this a general 
verdict of guilty was returned against General 

An appeal was made against this mistaken find- 
ing, and a new trial was permitted. It was clearly 
shown that Vargas was perjured ; the old Spanish 
law was actually in force in Trinidad, and Picton 
had been distinctly instructed to administer it as he 
found it. Fresh evidence, altogether in his favour, 
was adduced from Trinidad ; for there the strongest 
sympathy was felt for him, and the inhabitants sub- 
scribed to defray the legal expenses of the trial, and 
presented him with a sword. The second trial 
ended with a special verdict, accepting it as fact 
that torture was legal at the time in Trinidad, and 
absolving the defendant of malice against Louise 
Calderon ** independent of the illegality of the act," 
a rider that shows a British jury would not tole- 
rate the infliction of torture. Picton was never 
fully acquitted ; as the result of this verdict his 
recognisances were respited until "the court should 


further order," which it never did, and the general 
opinion in legal circles was that, had judgment 
been delivered, it would have been against Picton ; 
" but that, on consideration of the merits, it would 
have been followed by a punishment so slight, and 
so little commensurate with the magnitude of the 
questions embraced by the case, as to have reflected 
but little credit upon the prosecution." 

Picton had many sympathisers. The testimonials 
sent in his favour from Trinidad were of the most 
cordial nature, and took the substantial form, as we 
have seen, of subscriptions in cash and a sword. 
The first he would not accept, when, shortly after 
the trial, a terrible calamity befell the principal town, 
which was destroyed by fire. Picton at once sent 
back the whole amount, to be applied in the work of 
charitable relief He found another staunch friend 
in the eccentric Duke of Queensberry, who con- 
veyed a very kindly message to the persecuted 
general, assuring him "ol his entire conviction ot 
his innocence, and of his high sense of Picton s 
character." That this was no empty compliment 
was further proved by his generous offer of ;^ 10,000, 
a sum placed entirely at his disposal for the defence 
of the action. Picton's rugged but manly nature 
was greatly touched by this noble offer, and he 
wrote at once to the Duke of Queensberry to say 


that ''had it not been for the kindness and gener- 
osity of a near relation (his uncle) who has lent 
me his fortune to defend my character, I should 
most readily have availed myself of your disin- 
terested liberality." They met subsequently, but 
only once. When Picton was on the eve of start- 
ing for Spain, and waiting one day at his favourite 
house of call, the Grosvenor coffee-house,^ the 
Dukes card was brought in to him, with a request 
that Picton would go out and speak to his Grace, 
who apologised, saying : ** I am too infirm, General 
Picton, to leave my carriage ; you must forgive me, 
but I was anxious to shake hands with you and 
bid you farewell. And I have one favour to ask — 
that you will sometimes write to me. We get such 
vague and contradictory accounts in the newspapers 
that I should like, when you have leisure to write, 
to know the real truth." Picton readily promised, 
and wrote as long as the Duke lived, which was 
only to the end of the year. He left Picton a 
legacy of jCsooo. 

I have been led by this Trinidad story to omit 
some details of Picton's early career. He was the 
son of a country gentleman in Pembrokeshire, and 
obtained a commission in 1771, at the early age 
of thirteen. He did not join his regiment of the 

* There were no military clubs in those days. 


1 2th Foot for a couple of years, and remained at 
the military academy of a Frenchman, M. Lachee. 
Then he went to Gibraltar, where, in the leisure of 
garrison duty, he studied the Spanish language, and 
rambled through the neighbouring mountains and 
cork woods, as British subalterns do to this day. It 
was this knowledge of Spanish that helped him to 
the unlucky governorship of Trinidad. He left the 
Rock, on promotion, just before the great siege, and 
thus lost that interesting and exciting experience. 
Five years afterwards, too, he came in for the army 
reduction, and spent twelve long years, from 1 783 
to 1794, on half-pay. In 1794, however, renewed 
hostilities gave him a hope of re-employment, and 
he went, quite on his own account, to the West 
Indies. He had a slight acquaintance with Sir 
J ohn Vaughan, the commander-in-chief, who at once 
named him to a captaincy in the 17th Foot, and 
appointed him aide-de-camp. From this he soon 
passed to major in the 68th, and the post of deputy 
quartermaster-general, in which he was presently 
superseded. Then Sir Ralph Abercromby came 
out in command, and in the active operations that 
followed Major Picton found abundant opportuni- 
ties of distinction. He took part, as one of Aber- 
cromby 's staff, in the capture of St. Lucia and St. 
Vincent, and was thrown into close connection with 


soldiers like Hope and Moore. Sir Ralph Aber- 
cromby had a very high opinion of him, and he 
appointed him to the governorship of Trinidad, 
because he thought him quite the most qualified 
man he could find for the situation. The island 
was then a hotbed of crime, the refuge of malefac- 
tors, of pirates and privateers, who spread depreda- 
tions and dismay through the neighbouring isles. 
The population was made up of fugitive desf)era- 
does who had been concerned in the rebellions 
and massacres at places near. In the island, 
** murders and robberies were committed with im- 
punity, widows and orphans despoiled, inheritances 
plundered." So infamous was the character of the 
people of Trinidad, that no person coming from it 
was permitted to remain in a neighbouring island 
without giving bond in ;^icxx> for good behaviour. 
The proof of "usual or frequent residences" in 
Trinidad was ipso facto enough to commit a person 
to gaol. That Picton with a very inadequate force — 
300 men of the 57th, and 200 foreigners and blacks 
— was able to maintain order, crush a dangerous 
conspiracy, and resist Spanish aggression, showed 
him to be a vigorous administrator. But for the un- 
fortunate affair of the " picketed " Louise Calderon. 
his governorship would have been considered an 
unmixed success. 


From the various causes stated, Picton's ad- 
vancement had been slow. He was nearly fifty 
before he became a colonel, and he only reached 
the rank of major-general in 1810, when he was 
fifty-two, and therefore much senior in point of 
years to his colleagues in the Peninsula. In person 
at that time he is described as a tall, large man, 
six feet one in height, with a stem face, but his 
smile "dispelled at once a repulsive expression 
which sometimes hung upon his brow " ; keen eyes, 
a sharp quick voice which commanded attention ; 
**the earnestness of his delivery and the power of 
his language impressed the hearer with convic- 
tion." ^ In the field his voice altered and became 
full, deep, and impressive, and had an almost 
magnetic effect upon the men he led. One who 
heard him rebuke his division after the pillage of 
a wine store was greatly prejudiced against him 
as he looked at **the dark, gloomy, forbidding 
face, which deepened when he opened his mouth 
and began to pour forth a torrent of abuse on 
us for our conduct." Yet, although no man could 
blame with more severity when occasion required, 
he was no niggard of his praise when it was de- 
served. Nothing could surpass his calm intrepidity 
and bravery in danger; and his presence in battle had 

^ See ante, p. 319, Wellington's remarks. 



the effect of a talisman, so much had his skill and 
valour gained upon the men under his command. 

Wellington, as has been said, asked that Picton 
might be sent out to him. When the general 
joined, he was given the command of the 3rd 
Division, which he retained till the end of the war. 
He was so far concerned in Craufurd's rash action 
on the Coa that he is said to have been in support, 
and yet refused to come up — a statement that tends 
to show Picton's good sense, for it was certainly 
Wellington s wish to avoid a general engagement 
then, and that the arrival of the 3rd Division would 
probably have precipitated. Picton's division was 
last but one on the left at Busaco, and had to meet 
the attack of the second corps (Regnier's). It was 
hardly pressed, and might have given way but for 
the prompt support of Wellington ; then Picton's 
reserves drove all before them. An amusing 
incident occurred in the early morning. When the 
piquets were attacked and repulsed, Picton charged 
at the head, waving a red nightcap in which he 
had slept at the bivouac. 

Picton, with his ** fighting 3rd," was always to 
the front in the pursuit of Massena from Torres 
Vedras. It was indeed conspicuous then, and after- 
wards through the Peninsula, for **its daring enter- 
prise and indefatigable activity," often in strong 


contrast with discreditable marauding. As when 
the 88th made a splendid charge at Fuentes 
d'Onoro, and Picton commended them with, " Well 
done, 88th ! " " Are we the greatest blackguards 
in the army now?" retorted voices, reminding him 
of some former reproaches. "No, no," answered 
Picton readily ; ** you are brave and gallant soldiers. 
This day has redeemed your character." It was to 
these splendid soldiers that he said, "We'll waste 
no powder, Rangers, to-day ; the business must 
be done with cold iron." They were his ** brave 
ragged rascals." " I don't care how they dress," he 
once said, "so long as they mind their fighting." 
At El Boden he saved his division, which he held, 
as always, entirely under command ; the battalions, 
preserving their beautiful order, were ready to form 
square at any moment, and quite imposed upon the 
French cavalry. Picton's people were among the 
first in at Ciudad Rodrigo, and one of his briga- 
diers (Mackinnon) was killed by the first explo- 
sion ; the general himself, with a voice of "twenty 
trumpet power," controlling the fight. Picton's 
division took the castle at Badajoz, headed by 
their general, who was soon struck down. Welling- 
ton s gratitude for the last feat was great, and he 
wrote Lord Liverpool that "General Picton has 
inspired a confidence in the army, and exhibited 


an example of science and bravery which has been 
surpassed by no^ other officTer. His exertions in 
the attack cannot fail to excite the most lively 
feelings of admiration." 

Picton missed Salamanca through a dangerous 
illness, but Pakenham led them nobly in the great 
counter-stroke. When their own chief returned to 
duty from England, he was received with vociferous 
shouts by his men ; they gathered round him as 
he rode into camp, with cries of '* Here comes 
our brave old father," and "Three cheers for 
old Picton." He was in time for Vittoria, and we 
have an authentic account of his impatience that 
day waiting for orders to advance. An aide-de- 
camp came past him, looking for the 7th Division, 
which had not yet come up. "What are you to 
tell him ? " Picton insisted upon knowing. " To 
attack that bridge, the 4th and 6th Divisions to 
support." "Tell Lord Wellington I mean to take 
that bridge in less than ten minutes, and the 4th 
and 6th Divisions may support or not as they 
please." Then, turning to his troops, he shouted, 
"Come on, ye rascals! Come on, ye fighting 
villains!" and he kept his word. His conduct 
and that of his division was the admiration of the 
whole army. 

Picton held the ground against Soult in the 


critical fighting at Sauroren, and shortly after re- 
turned for a brief space to England, again to recruit 
his health, and receive the thanks of the House of 
Commons, having not long before been elected 
M.P. for Carmarthen. But he was soon back at 
the seat of war, and was engaged in the closing 
episodes, being as usual ever in the forefront. He 
was always at the head of his division, stick in 
hand — for he almost always carried one, and used 
it to tap with on his horse's mane when full of im- 
patience, or to wave over his head as he pointed 
with it to the enemy's lines. Sometimes, however, 
he exchanged it for an umbrella, and it was so in 
the advance on Vittoria, when he beat Welling- 
ton's butler about the head with it for impeding the 
march of his division. The man was escorting 
headquarters baggage, and objected to make way, 
when Picton, who was no respecter of persons, 
thrashed him and threatened him with the provost- 
marshal A story of this kind substantiates the 
other of Picton's threat to hang the commissary 
if he failed to bring up the rations for his division. 
The story is now credited, but on no convincing 
evidence, to General Craufurd.^ 

^ Wellington's reply to the injured commissary when he complained is 
historical. " Did he (whoever it was, Picton or Craufurd) say that ? Then 
you may depend if^n it he will keep his word." 


Sir Thomas Picton was in private life, living at 
his seat in Wales, when the Waterloo storm burst. 
He was at once offered a command, but accepted 
only on the condition that he was to serve under 
Wellington. Then, with that assurance gained, he 
made ready for the field in such hot haste that 
he reached Belgium ahead of his uniforms. Many 
strange presentiments are reported as concurring 
to predict it would be his last campaign. He must 
have suffered from some severe mental strain, for 
Wellington told Stanhope^ that Picton came to 
him shortly before Waterloo and said, ** My lord, I 
must give up. I am grown so nervous that, when 
there is service to be done, it works upon my mind, 
so that it is impossible for me to sleep at nights. 
I cannot possibly stand it, and I shall be forced to 
retire." Poor fellow! he was killed a few days 

He preserved his indomitable pluck to the last. 
He said to his aide-de-camp, Tyler, at the end of 
the hard fighting at Quatre Bras, ** I shall begin to 
think that I cannot be killed after this." Yet at 
that moment he was badly wounded. A musket- 
ball had broken his ribs and produced other internal 
injuries ; but he concealed his hurts, lest he should 
be prevented from taking part in the great battle 

' Stanhope says **in France." It must, of course, have been in Belgium. 


that was imminent. He was killed in the second 
phase of Waterloo,^ when Ney assailed the left 
centre, and was met by Kempt's and Pack's bri- 
gades of Picton's corps. Picton headed the charge 
of the latter, and it advanced with such determi- 
nation that it appalled the enemy. It was a most 
critical moment ; the success gained was triumphant 
in the end, but the price paid was heavy, for Picton 
was killed. 

The brave soldier, whom a rancorous spirit had 
cruelly maligned in early life, was greatly honoured 
lifter death. A splendid public funeral, a noble 
monument, the sorrow of a nation, were the tributes 
paid to his heroic services. His conduct in war 
may be held up as an example to the coming 
generations of British soldiers. 

^ See ante, p. 197. 




Birth and early studies abroad — Serves in India — At Monte Video — 
Brooding melancholy — The retreat on Corunna — "An iron man" — 
The Light Division in the Peninsula — Splendid march to Talavera 
— The Coa — Outpost duty — Busaco — Leave to England — Resumes 
command— Fuentes d'Onoro — Ciudad Rodrigo — Meets death in the 

CRAUFURD'S preparation for his profession 
was more practical and thorough than was 
at all customary in those days. He travelled 
abroad at nineteen, soon after he had gained the 
rank of captain, and studied the military art in 
Germany, visited many battle-fields, and became 
personally known to Frederick the Great. At the 
same time he gained fluency in German, and his 
knowledge of the language stood him in good stead 
years afterwards, when the Hussars of the German 
Legion were under his command in the Peninsula. 
His elder brother, Charles Craufurd, also a dis- 
tinguished officer, had been equerry to the Duke 
of York, and commissioner to Austrian head- 
quarters. This added to Robert's experience, for 



the brothers were much together upon the Con- 
tinent, and, later, Robert Craufurd was employed on 
special missions with Austrian armies in the field. 
Before this, however, he rose through the regi- 
mental grades by no means rapidly, having regard 
to his family interest ; for his brother Charles married 
the widow of the Duke of Newcastle, and wielded 
much political influence. Robert, although a captain 
in the 75th at nineteen, waited three-and-twenty 
years for the rank of colonel, and in the interval 
served in India, where he took part in the early 
wars against Tippoo Sahib. His real opportunity 
came when he entered Parliament as M.P. for East 
Retford, and established a close friendship with 
Mr. Windham, then Secretary of State for Colonies 
and War. Mr. Windham nominated him to the 
command of a special expedition, a selection that 
evoked loud murmurs, for Craufurd was of junior 
rank, and the command that of a lieutenant-general. 
Windham stood firm to his appointment ; but when 
Craufurd's force was sent on without landing from 
the Cape of Good Hope to South America, the 
chief command was vested in the ill-fated and in- 
competent General Whitelocke. Craufurd's part in 
the disastrous affair of Monte Video was, however, 
creditable to himself, and when his pusillanimous chief 
surrendered, he offered to place himself at the head 


of the troops and cut his way through. ** But this 
unfortunate affair," says his biographer, " embittered 
his mind to the very end of his career, and much 
increased his constitutional tendency to brooding." 
Fits of deep depression often alternated with the 
fiercest energy in Craufurd — the reaction so often 
seen in men of his fiery nature. Again, the brilliant 
audacity he often showed at the outposts was pro- 
bably his protests against the vacillation and timid 
counsels that had involved him in the disgrace of 
Monte Video. It is certain that his contempt for 
his wretched chief was unbounded, and some said 
that he strove hard to have Whitelocke shot. The 
feeling of indignation was universal ; even among 
the rank and file it was the rule to give the toast, 
when drinking, " Success to grey hairs, bad luck to 
white locks!" 

Robert Craufurd was the friend and comrade of 
Sir John Moore, and under him he commanded the 
Light Brigade in the retreat upon Corunna. He 
was long in charge of the rear-guard, and conducted 
it with conspicuous ability. At Orense his brigade 
was united with that of Charles Alten, and sepa- 
rating from Moore, took a different line of retreat 
through the mountains upon Vigo, an independent 
operation successfully accomplished by Craufurd 
under adverse circumstances, that brought out his 


indomitable character. "He was an iron man ; 
nothing daunted him ; nothing turned him from his 
purpose," It was his fixed resolve to bring off his 
men in safety, and this he felt could only be effected 
by an iron discipline, enforced with a severity that 
was ruthless, cruel even, yet salutary, and indeed 
indispensable. Nothing could have done it but 
the firm hand of the commander, hard, heavy, and 
unrelaxing, the magnetic control of his stern eye, 
his unremitting vigilance, watching ever for the 
slightest symptom of insubordination or faltering 
weakness, his prompt unhesitating infliction of 
punishment where he felt that an example must 
be made. ** He would have no straggling, no 
marauding ; no murmurs at the length of the way, 
the difficulties, the almost intolerable hardships of 
the retreat. Men quite barefoot, pallid, wayworn, 
half-starved, reeling as though they were drunk, but 
only from fatigue, drenched to the skin, in ragged 
uniforms and shattered accoutrements ; yet still," 
says one of their number, ** still we held on reso- 
lutely. Craufurd was not to be daunted by long 
miles, fatigue, or foul weather. Many a man caught 
courage from his stern eye and gallant bearing." 

He was inexorable when an example must be 
made. If men left the ranks, he would halt 
the whole brigade, order a drumhead court-martial, 


I ' 



and flog the culprits on the spot, although the 
French were close at his heels. In one case the 
colonel of the regiment pleaded for three men 
as good soldiers who had borne their part stoutly 
in the fight. ** I order you, sir, to do your duty. 
These men shall be punished." One man took his 
flogging as he stood, there were no halberds ready, 
and afterwards resumed his place in the ranks ; only 
his devoted wife, who was in the retreat, carried the 
knapsack that he could not strap upon his bleeding 
back. When the punishment was ended, Craufurd 
gave notice that he would repeat it whenever he 
caught any man disobeying his orders. It may well 
seem to modern ideas that this severity was carried 
too far, but those whom he thus held together in that 
harassing retreat admitted its necessity. Harris, 
who was a private in the ranks of the 95th (now 
the Rifle Brigade), bears witness that ** no man but 
one formed of stuff like General Craufurd could 
have saved the brigade from perishing altogether, 
and if he flogged two he saved hundreds from death 
by his management." It is said of this stern, in- 
flexible leader, that although he was greatly disliked 
by officers, he was never unpopular with his men. 
He was always on the side of the latter, and never 
was he seen more angered than when he caught an 
officer being carried across a river pick-a-back upon 


a soldier s shoulders. *' Put him down instantly," 
roared the general to the man ; and to the officer he 
cried, **Go back, sir, and come through the water 
like the others." His ascendency over the troops 
was immense. If he (Craufurd) stopped his horse, 
and halted to deliver one of his stern reprimands, 
you would see half-a-dozen men, unshaven, shoeless, 
and savage riflemen, standing for the moment lean- 
ing upon their weapons, and scowling up in his face 
as he scolded ; and when he dashed his spurs into 
his reeking horse, they would place their rifles upon 
their shoulders and hobble after him again. He 
was sometimes to be seen in the front, then in the 
rear, and then he would fall in with them again in 
the midst, dismounted and marching on foot, that 
the men might see he took an equal share in the 
toils they were enduring. 

Craufurd brought off" his brigade in safety, but 
they landed in England a deplorably ragged and 
squalid band. There the three regiments, the 43rd, 
52nd, and 95th, were quickly re-formed, their ranks 
re-filled, and they returned to Portugal under their 
old commander, to form the nucleus of the gallant 
Light Division. When Craufurd landed, Welling- 
ton's army was committed to the campaign of 
Talavera, and it was Craufurd's desire to join him 
without delay. Then followed that famous march 


which IS still recorded as one of the most splendid 
achievements of infantry. Craufurd was moving 
steadily forward, his men suffering greatly from the 
July sun ; heat apoplexy claimed its victims, and 
two men of the 52 nd committed suicide to escape 
the torments of the road. Then, on the 28th July, 
having been already three weeks on the march, 
Craufurd met news that the army had been engaged 
and was in full retreat. Spanish fugitives were 
already streaming .to the rear ; to reinforce the 
front was all Craufurds care. The weakest, a 
small handful of fifty, were weeded out of his 
ranks, and he began his memorable march under 
the strict regulations he had instituted, and which 
became the standing orders of his division. No 
man might fall out by the way without a pass from 
his officer ; when he rejoined his company he was 
paraded before the regimental surgeons, and if his 
case was seen to be one of skulking, he was at once 
tried by drumhead court-martial. "Thus frequently, 
when almost dying with thirst,* we were obliged to 
pass springs of the finest water by the • roadside 
untasted. But all this apparent severity, as we 
afterwards learnt, was considered as absolutely 
essential to the great purpose General Craufurd 
had in view— despatch." As the brigade advanced 

* Costello, p. 31. 


more and more runaways were encountered, spread- 
ing the wildest rumours of disaster and defeat. 
Craufurd's men "hastened rather than slackened 
their impetuous pace, and leaving only seventeen 
stragglers behind, in twenty-six hours crossed the 
field of battle (Talavera) in a close and compact 
body, having in that time crossed over sixty-two 
English miles in the hottest season of the year, each 
man carrying from fifty to sixty pounds weight 
upon his shoulders."^ 

Craufurd s one independent action, that on the 
Coa, has been much criticised, and it was con- 
demned by Wellington, as has been said on a 
previous page.^ He stayed too long beyond the 
river, no doubt, but it was of advantage, although 
so hazardous, and the whole of the antecedent 
operations were of the most brilliant and daring 
character. With one weak division — barely 2500 
men, and 400 cavalry (the ist German Hussars) — 
he held his ground to the last moment, although 
opposed to two entire French army corps and 
some 6000 cavalry. No finer commander of the 
outposts has ever been known than Craufurd. He 
made himself intimately acquainted with his ground 

* Sir George Napier, who made the march, calls it fifty miles in twenty- 
two hours. 

* See ante, p. 132. 



directly he occupied, posted his men himself, and 
was in close personal communication with the 
piquet officers, even with single sentinels. He 
was greatly aided by the full knowledge of outpost 
work possessed both by the famous regiments 
trained by Sir John Moore, and those excellent 
troops the German Hussars, with whom Craufurd 
could converse fluently in their own tongue. The 
vigilance and alertness of Craufurd's men were 
always remarkable.^ The people of the country 
were also on our side, and kept him fully informed 
of all movements, otherwise his position would 
have been perilous and untenable. 

** For three months Craufurd kept a weak divi- 
sion within two hours' march of 60,000 men, . . . 
but this did not satisfy his feverish thirst for distinc- 
tion, and, forgetting his stay beyond the Coa was 
a matter of sufferance and not of real strength, he 
with headstrong ambition resolved, in defiance of 
reason and the reiterated orders of his general, to 
fight on the right bank/' Thus Napier the his- 
torian ; his brother George says (and both were 
present) that Craufurd let his vanity get the better 
of his judgment, and delayed so long " that at last 

' Their colonel met another English colonel and asked how he was. 
''Tolerably well/' replied the latter, "considering that I am obliged to 
sleep with one eye open/' **6y Gott," replied the German, "I never sleeps 
at all." 


the enemy made a sudden attack." Wellington 
put it less strongly, and merely said that "unfor- 
tunately Craufurd did not begin to retire till the 
last moment." The result was that the whole force 
was nearly lost, many valuable lives were sacrificed. 
It was necessary to withdraw across the Coa by one 
narrow bridge in the face of almost overwhelm- 
ing numbers. Only the splendid courage of his 
splendid division saved it from destruction ; officers 
and men emulated each other in deeds of brilliant 
self-sacrificing heroism. 

At Busaco, Craufurd, "in a happy mood for 
command, made masterly dispositions." He faced 
Ney, and waited till the attack was fully developed, 
and the enemy was within a very few yards of him, to 
head a charge that hurled them back beaten, " driven 
like sheep from the mountain side." Soon after this 
he went on short leave to England, and missed the 
minor operations in which the Light Division was 
engaged. Wellington had some difficulty in saving 
Craufurd from supersession, there were so many 
generals senior to him ; but on his return, in 
April 1811, Wellington wrote : "You will find your 
division in its old quarters, and the sooner you can 
come up to them the better." He rejoined them in 
time to take part in the battle of Fuentes d'Onoro. 
At Fuente Guinaldo, Craufurd was late in his 


march of concentration, and was sharply repri- 
manded by Wellington, who, however, valued him 
too highly to be long annoyed. ** He knew his 
merits, and humoured him. It was surprising what 
he bore from him at times " ^ — absence from an 
inspection parade, neglect of orders or the substi- 
tution of his own, and other headstrong acts, which 
in any one else Wellington would have visited with 
more than mere displeasure. 

Craufurd's last appearance on the stirring scene 
was now approaching, and he was to make his 
exit in the most gallant fashion. He was mortally 
wounded in the desperate assault of Ciudad Rod- 
rigo. The 3rd and Light Divisions were charged 
with the assault of the breaches, Craufurd*s men 
having that known as ** the Lesser." He harangued 
them before they started, reminding them that the 
eyes of their country were upon them. " Be 
steady ; be cool ; be firm in the assault. The 
town must be yours to-night." Then, when the 
signal rocket was fired, he cried, '* Now, lads, for 
the breach!" and taking up a commanding posi- 
tion, encouraged them by voice and gesture until 
he was struck down. A musket-ball pierced his 
lungs and entered his spine. 

He died of his wounds, and was sincerely 

^ Larpent, p. 85. 


mourned by all who knew him. In his own 
division his name was pronounced with "expres- 
sions of the most profound reverence and poignant 
sorrow." Every man turned out to attend his 
funeral ; all the generals were present — Welling- 
ton, Beresford, Castanos, and the rest ; all the staff. 
Six veterans carried the coffin, not a dry eye among 
them, and "the symptoms of grief were such as men 
show when they lose parent or child." Wellington 
wrote his requiem in a few choice words, express- 
ing his sorrow and regret that his Majesty should 
have been "deprived of the services, and I of the 
assistance, of an officer of tried talents and expe- 
rience, who was an ornament to his profession, and 
was calculated to render the most important ser- 
vices to the country." 




Sir John Hope : at the Adour — Cole : an obedient lieutenant : his 
hospitality — Kempt : from Cox's to Governor- General — Leith — Pack 
— Byng — Colville — Dickson — Gomm — De Lancey. 

ANY good soldiers remain to be noticed a 
little more in detail than in the opening of 
this Part. 


The Hon. Sir John Hope, an elder officer, 
did not join in the Peninsula until after Vittoria, 
when the question of seniority was settled by 
Wellington's advancement to the rank of field- 
marshal. Hope had already seen service in Spain, 
in the retreat to Corunna, where he succeeded to 
the command on Moore's death. Previous to that 
he had been actively engaged in the West Indies 
and in Egypt ; he had gone to Hanover with 
Cathcart, and to Sweden with Moore. At Wal- 
cheren he commanded a division, but, like the rest, 

gained no laurels, and in 1813 he took Graham's 



place in command of an army corps, being then 
next in seniority, but not second in command, to 

Hope was heartily welcomed by his great chief, 
who said afterwards that he thought him the ablest 
man in the Peninsular army. Hope was of 
soldierly mien and polished beauty, gifted with 
strong common-sense, and having a high ideal of 
duty. It was his fortune to exercise quasi-inde- 
pendent command for a time, and his passage of 
the Adour was a noble achievement ; only a great 
general could have given practical effect to the 
daring plans of his still greater chief. Wellington s 
only anxiety was lest he might lose Hope. " Like 
every one else, I have the highest opinion of him ; " 
** every day convinces me of his worth,** but **we 
shall lose him if he continues to expose himself 
as he has done during the last three days." He 
would never take shelter ; stood erect among the 
sharp-shooters, and on one occasion his hat and 
coat were both shot through, and he was wounded 
in the leg. 

Sir Thomas Hope eventually succeeded to the 
family honours, and became fourth Lord Hope- 






The Hon. Lowry Cole was a son of the Earl 
of Enniskillen, who made soldiering his profession, 
and climbed the tree rapidly. He was a major 
at twenty-one, having then six years service, and 
a lieutenant - colonel the following year in the 
Coldstream Guards. He served on the staff, he 
sat in Parliament, and he seized every chance of 
seeing active service. At Maida he was brigadier, 
and second in command ; but he had differences 
with Stuart, and left Sicily, to get soon afterwards 
(1809) the command of the 4th Division in the 
Peninsula. It was said of him that he had not 
the same genius for war as Picton or Craufurd, but 
that he was more obedient. Cole always claimed 
to have himself commanded that decisive advance 
of his division at Albuera which saved the day, 
and which is commonly believed to have been an 
inspiration of Hardinge's, then a young officer on 
the staff. In the Peninsula, Cole was known for 
his hospitality; he kept a liberal table, and gave 
the best dinners. Wellington placed him first 
among the campaigning Amphitryons. Cole was 
at Waterloo, and did good service, but he obtained 
no reward in rank, and was bitterly disappointed 
that he was not made a peer or a baronet. 



Sir James Kempt, who lived to a great age, and 
filled the highest offices, was of small stature and 
unassuming manners, popular with every one, and 
a really clever man. He did not rise very rapidly, 
and was handicapped by nine years' half-pay, during 
which time he became a clerk at Cox & Green- 
wood s, and personally known to the Duke of York. 
When he had helped to raise the 1 1 3th, and became 
a major, he went on the staff, and served as aide- 
de-camp to both Sir Ralph Abercromby and Sir 
David Dundas (of the "manoeuvres," and after- 
wards adjutant - general). He was in Sicily, at 
Maida ; in America, as assistant quartermaster- 
general, till 181 1 ; and at last in Spain, with the 
local rank of major-general, and the command of 
a brigade under Picton. It fell to Kempt to replace 
Picton at the storming of Badajoz, and after his 
chiefs death at Waterloo. In later years, on the 
express recommendation of the Duke of Welling- 
ton, he was sent to Canada as Governor-General 
and he was at one time Master- General of the 
Ordnance, with a seat in the Cabinet. 



Leith was a Scotch general officer, who com- 
manded a division throughout the Peninsula with 
great skill and judgment. Having studied in the 
military school at Lille, he served a good deal on the 
stafif, as aide-de-camp to Boyd, Lieutenant-Gover- 
nor of Gibraltar, to Generals O'Hara and David 
Dundas ; he was in command of a brigade under 
Moore, and afterwards was under Hill, with the 
general charge of the division, so as to release Hill 
for higher duties. Then he got the 5th Division 
to himself, and led it at Badajoz and Salamanca, 
where he was badly wounded. He returned from 
England in time to command at the final assault 
upon San Sebastian, and served through the rest 
of the war. He missed Waterloo by being sent 
to recover Barbadoes for Louis XVHL, and was 
for some time Governor of the Leeward Islands. 


The record of Sir Denis Pack is one of un- 
broken fighting from 1791 to 18 15. The son of 
the Dean of Kilkenny, he became a cornet in 
1 79 1, and a captain in the 5th Dragoon Guards in 
1795. In those four years he served in Flanders, 


at Quiberon, and in Ireland against the French 
invasion under Humbert, whom he escorted as a 
prisoner from the south to Dublin. He was colonel 
of the 71st at the Cape of Good Hope, and 
in Monte Video with Whitelocke ; he fought at 
Vimiero and Corunna, went to Walcheren, and 
at last settled down as a brigadier in the Portu- 
guese army in 18 10, with which he was engaged 
at Busaco, Almeida, Ciudad Rodrigo, Salamanca, 
and the retreat from Burgos. During the opera- 
tions in the Pyrenees at Sauroren, and afterwards 
in the south of France, he commanded the 6th 
Division of Wellington's army. At Waterloo he 
had the second brigade under Picton. 


The Hon. Sir John Byng, another fighting briga- 
dier, who when under forty was a major-general, 
and being strongly recommended to Wellington by 
the Duke of York, was given a command under 
Hill. Byng was hotly engaged at Vittoria, and in 
the fighting in the Pyrenees showed a very firm 
front at Roncesvalles, and afterwards at Sauroren. 
He commanded the second brigade of Guards at 



The Hon. Sir Charles Colville was an ensign 
at eleven, and joined as a lieutenant at sixteen. 
At twenty he was a captain in the 13th Foot, 
and served with it for nineteen years in the West 
Indies, Bermuda, Egypt, and was a brigadier at 
the capture of Martinique. He was major-general 
commanding one of Picton's brigades from 18 10, 
and was greatly trusted by that enterprising leader. 
At the storming of Badajoz he commanded the 
4th Division ; while, finally, at Waterloo he was 
condemned to inaction on the far right flank, as 
we have seen. 


Sir Alexander Dickson, who became Welling- 
tons right hand as commander of the artillery, 
left Woolwich in 1 793, at twenty-one, and served at 
the capture of Minorca, and at Buenos Ayres. He 
was brigade major of artillery at the passage of the 
Douro, after which he joined Beresford, and com- 
manded the newly organised Portuguese artillery. 
His sterling qualities were soon exhibited in this 
post, and recognised by Wellington, who gradu- 
ally advanced him to more and more responsible 


functions. He was a master of details, even the 
most minute and trifling, most methodical and pains- 
taking, with great powers of work, and rendered 
excellent service at the great sieges in Spain. In 
due course he rose to the command of Wellington's 
artillery, although a comparatively junior officer. 
He was chief at Vittoria, and in all the great 
battles in the Pyrenees, the passage of the Bidas- 
soa, the Nive, Nivelle, Orthez, and Toulouse. At 
Waterloo he reverted to the command of a battery 
of horse artillery, but during the battle and at 
Quatre Bras he was in personal attendance on Sir 
George Wood, who led the whole artillery. 


Sir William Gomm, who lived to be commander- 
in-chief in India and a field-marshal, was an ensig^n 
at ten years of age, having been given the com- 
mission in reward for his father s services, who was 
killed at the storming of Guadaloupe. He was not 
a little helped by an aunt, who brought him up, and 
who was governess in the royal family. Gomm 
at fifteen made the campaign of Flanders, but after 
that he spent three years at the military school 
recently established at High Wycombe, where he 
studied staff" duties under Colonel Howard Douglas. 


Gomm first and last was a staff-officer, and a culti- 
vated one, holding many appointments, always in 
the quartermaster -general's department: assistant 
quartermaster - general in Copenhagen, again in 
Portugal, and with Moore at Corunna; assistant 
quartermaster-general at Walcheren, and then again 
in the Peninsula, where he was employed to the 
end of the war. He was in most of the fighting : 
at Fuentes d'Onoro, Ciudad Rodrigo, Salamanca, 
Burgos, in the retreat from which he led Leith's 
division ; again, he led the advance of Graham's 
corps in 1813 through the wild mountain tracks of 
the Tras os Montes, most of which he had pre- 
viously reconnoitred and surveyed. At Quatre 
Bras and Waterloo he was on the staff of Picton's 
division. Gomm, who was made a K.C.B. and 
transferred from the 9th Regiment to the Cold- 
stream Guards, was a typical staff-officer of the 
class that worked ^ — quiet, industrious, and of high 
usefulness, as Wellington was fully aware. 

De Lancey. 

The career of Sir William De Lancey was cut 
short by his death at Waterloo, but he was of the 
same type as Gomm, and would no doubt have 

^ See ante, p. 1 14. 


risen to the highest honours if he had been spared. 
He came of a loyal New York family of Huguenot 
descent, and his family having left the States, he 
became a cornet in 1792, served in India and the 
West Indies, first in cavalry and then in infantry, 
till 1 802, when he joined the quartermaster-general's 
department, and remained on the staff till his death. 
He was repeatedly mentioned in despatches for his 
gallantry and good service, at the Douro, Ciudad 
Rodrigo, Vittoria (where he was deputy quarter- 
master-general to Sir Thomas Graham). He filled 
the same post with marked usefulness in the 
Waterloo campaign, and was greatly esteemed by 
the Duke. He was at Wellington's side when 
struck in the back by a ricochet shot, and was 
thought to be killed. Next day the Duke saw him 
still alive, and cheerily told him he would be like 
the man in '* Castle Rackrent " who heard what his 
friends said of him after he was dead. Wellington 
told this to Rogers, adding, " Poor fellow ! we knew 
each other ever since we were boys. But I had 
no time to be sorry. I went on with the army, 
and never saw him again." 

Lady De Lancey, a sister of Captain Basil Hall, 
R.N., and a bride of just three riionths' standing, 
accompanied her husband to Belgium, but was sent 
back to Antwerp during the fighting. She rejoined 

n: H. tVaril it (p. 


her poor husband, however, and nursed him tenderly 
till his death. I have been privileged to read a 
manuscript journal of Lady De Lancey's kept dur- 
ing this terrible time, and remember it as the most 
beautiful and touching, yet unconscious, tribute to 
her own fine nature and true womanhood that has 
ever been penned. 



Parentage — E^irly studies— Service in America t in Corsica — Con- 
flict with Sir Gilbert Elliot — Promoted brigadier -general — West 
Indies — Ireland — Egypt — The nucleus of the Light Division at 
Shomcliffe Camp — Sicily — Sweden — Portugal ; and advance into 
Spain — Retreat on Corunna ; and death — General estimate of that 

ONE distinguished soldier must not be 
omitted from the list of Wellington s con- 
temporaries, a general whom Wellington 
was willing to serve under, who under a happier 
fate might have achieved the same renown — a 
man of the highest talents, fearless, honourable, a 
chivalrous soldier sans peur et sans reproche. 

John Moore was the second son of Dr. Moore 
of Glasgow, the author of "Zeluco," and was 
given a commission in the 51st Regiment at the 
age of sixteen. He was then, according to his 
proud father, "a pretty youth ; his face is of a manly 
beauty, his person is strong, and his figure elegant. 
He dances, fences, and rides with uncommon 

address. His mind begins to expand, and he 



shows a great deal of vivacity, tempered with good 
sense and benevolence. He is of a daring and 
intrepid temper, and of an obliging disposition . . . 
everybody is fond of him." He was at this time 
making the grand tour with his father and the 
young Duke of Hamilton, and chiefly interested 
in things military — finding weak spots in foreign 
fortifications, attending reviews under Frederick 
the Great, and being drilled in spare moments by 
a Prussian sergeant. 

He learnt his work really at Port Mahon in 
Minorca, and then served under Clinton in the 
American war, distinguishing himself greatly in 
an attack up the river Penobscot. At the peace 
(1783) Moore was placed on half-pay, but devoted 
himself to the study of his profession, and entered 
Parliament through the influence of his friend the 
Duke of Hamilton, being about three-and-twenty. 
At last, in 1787, he returned to the active list, and 
became major, then lieutenant-colonel of his old 
regiment the 51st, which he brought into high 
order. He now first showed that faculty of in- 
teresting his officers in their work, and he checked 
the excessive indulgence in wine which was the 
great blot on every regimental mess of those days. 
The regiment was soon actively employed under 
Moore ; he was just too late for Toulon, but formed 


part of the descent on Corsica to reinstate Paoli. 
In these operations, during which Corsica was won 
and lost again, Moore became adjutant-general to 
the military leader, Sir Charles Stuart. When 
that general resigned his command sooner than 
support the overbearing conduct of Sir Gilbert 
Elliot, who had been appointed Viceroy of Corsica, 
Moore remained, but was soon at cross purposes 
with Elliot. Moore was popular in Corsica, the 
Viceroy very much the reverse ; the latter insisted 
that the former should break off all relations with 
the people, or expect to be sent home, as he was, 
presently, in the most peremptory way. He went 
to England, as it seemed, in disgrace, but it was 
admitted, even by Sir Gilbert Elliot s friends, that 
Moore had been harshly treated, and he was given 
the rank of brigadier-general, with a command in 
the West Indies under Sir Ralph Abercromby. 
He was in all the sharp fighting that ended in 
the capture of St. Lucia, and was then appointed 
governor of that island. 

Moore was soon busy in the work of restoring 
tranquillity, but he was much hampered by "the 
shameful ignorance and want of zeal in the principal 
officers under my command," and his great aim was 
to carry them with him and improve them. He 
wanted ** proper officers," and **such, I am sure," he 


writes Abercromby, ** still exist in the British army, 
though they are not to be found among those who 
have most money or most political interest." ** In 
order to inspire some activity and zeal, it was 
necessary to show a great deal." At that time he 
wrote his father : *' I rise at daylight, go to bed at 
nine, and am during the day in eternal action. I 
have not time to be ill." He felt confident that 
the troops might be kept healthy if more atten- 
tion was paid to them ; the greatest cleanliness 
enforced, regular diet, " an addition to the eating 
part of the rations instead of rum ; sea or river 
bathing, constant activity and movement." The 
mere parade of a regiment twice a day pleased the 
officers, but '* leaves the soldier to lounge the whole 
day in a barrack, which cannot be good, and where 
from indolence his body becomes enervated and 
liable to disorder." 

Moore did not escape the fatal scourge of the 
locality, and would have died of yellow fever but 
for his constitution and the reserve power stored 
in him by a wise way of living. After this he 
was invalided home, to serve soon in the south of 
Ireland when the French invasion was expected, 
and to be actively employed against the Irish 
insurgents in 1798. He saved Wexford from the 
most horrid outrages, and ** entered it so opportunely 


as to prevent it from being laid in ashes " * and its 
inhabitants massacred. When Abercromby was 
sent to Holland in 1799, Lord Cornwallis spared 
Moore, who had been constantly at his side in 
Dublin, writing: **You shall have all the troops 
you ask and General Moore, who is a greater loss 
to me than the troops. But he will be of infinite 
service to Abercromby; and I likewise think it 
an object to the State that an officer of his talents 
and character should have every opportunity of 
acquiring knowledge and experience in his pro- 
fession." Abercromby was superseded by the 
Duke of York, with the deplorable results well 
known to history. Moore was wounded in the 

His next serious service was in Egypt with 
Abercromby in 1 800-1, whose right hand he was, 
and of whom he spoke as follows : " Sir Ralph was 
a truly upright, honourable, and judicious man ; his 
great sagacity, which had been pointed all his life 
to military matters, made him an excellent officer. 
The disadvantage he laboured under was being ex- 
tremely short-sighted. He therefore stood in need 
of good executive generals under him." Moore 
was one of the best, and was peculiarly useful in 

' London Gautte^ June 26, 1798. 


reconnaissance. Hutchinson and Craddock were 
both senior to Moore, and he had no very leading 
part in the rest of the operations. Shortly afterwards 
he returned to England on the death of his father, 
and was appointed to that command at Shorncliffe 
which was the cradle of Craufurd s Light Divi- 
sion. The time was approaching when Napoleon 
in the camp at Boulogne threatened invasion, and 
people were playing at soldiers everywhere, espe- 
cially on our southern coasts. The Prince Regent 
commanded his regiment (the loth Hussars) at 
Brighton. Mr. Pitt, as warden of the Cinque Ports, 
commanded their militia, and was directly under 
Moore's orders.^ 

Sir William Napier, speaking of those Shorn- 
cliffe days, says : ** To awaken the faculties of those 
under him was one of Sir John Moore's quali- 
fications for command. At Shorncliffe camp he 
devised such improvements in drill, discipline, 
dress, arms, formations, and movements as would 
have placed him for military reforms beside the 
Athenian Iphicrates. ... His materials were the 
43rd, 52nd, and Rifle regiments, and he so fashioned 

^ Mr. Pitt, who constantly rode over from Walmer to Shomclifle to 
confer with Moore, asked once what post would be assigned to him and his 
regiment in case of invasion. " I shall put you on that hill in the rear, where 
you will make a most formidable show, while I with the soldiers are fighting 
on the beach." 


them that afterwards, as the Light Division under 
Wellington, they were found to be soldiers unsur- 
passable, perhaps never equalled. The separate 
successful careers of the officers strikingly attest 
the merits of the school ; so long a list of notable 
men could not be presented by three regiments 
of any service in the world. In it will be found 
above ninety who attained the grade of field- 
officer or higher grades, and amongst them four 
who commanded armies (three being celebrated 
as conquerors), two adjutants-general of the British 
army, three military secretaries, sixteen governors 
of colonies, and two organisers of the Metropolitan 
and Irish constabularies. Many generals who have 
commanded districts, one who commanded a foreign 
army, several persons noted in science and litera- 
ture or by peculiar missions and organisations, also 
belong to the roll ; and nearly all were of some 
fame in battle, although unequal in merit and repu- 

After Trafalgar, when Napoleon broke up his 
camp at Boulogne to win Austerlitz, Moore went as 
second in command to General Fox, who was to 
have superseded Stuart in command of the expedi- 
tion to Sicily ; but he was not present at the battle 
of Maida. Next he went on that extraordinary 
mission to Sweden, in aid of its king, Gustavus, 


who would not suffer the British troops to land 
unless they were placed under his own command. 
After a series of the most exasperating yet petty 
disputes, the mad king of Sweden suddenly made 
Moore a prisoner, and declared that the British 
general should not leave Stockholm without his 
permission. Moore, however, by a stratagem, 
escaped to Gothenburg, where he found the fleet 
and the transports, and the wind being favourable, 
he sailed at once for England, where he was but 
coldly received by the Government. He indig- 
nantly protested to Lord Castlereagh, *' Had I been 
an ensign I could hardly have been treated with 
less ceremony." He was to go to Portugal, but 
in a subordinate command, yet he only knew it by 
inference. He had a right to be treated with more 
consideration, although he never questioned the 
right of Ministers to employ whom they pleased. 
** Had they on this occasion given the command 
to the youngest general in the army, I should 
neither have felt nor expressed that the least injury 
had been done to me." 

His soreness was natural, but it did not pre- 
vent him .from yielding honest admiration for Sir 
Arthur Wellesley, nor from urging that **the suc- 
cessful young general should continue what he 
had begun so well." After Vimiero he told Sir 


Hew Dalrymple : ** I waive all pretensions as 
senior, for I consider this as his (Wellesley's) 
expedition. He ought to have the command of 
whatever is detached. For my part, I wish I 
could withdraw altogether ; but I shall aid as 
far as I can for the good of the service without 
interfering with Sir Arthur, and take any part 
that is allotted to me." Wellesley heartily re- 
ciprocated, as we have seen,^ and most hand- 
somely offered, when recalled to England, to 
make Moore's peace with the Ministers. Wellesley 
always acknowledged Moore's fitness for supreme 
command, which now indeed, after the Convention 
of Cintra, fell upon him by express orders from 
England. He was told that Baird had Ifeft England 
with a reinforcement of 10,000, that he was to com- 
bine with them, and advancing into Spain, to aid 
the Spaniards as circumstances might suggest. 

What followed cannot be told more clearly, or 
in finer words, than it has been by Napier : — 

•'It is well known how the truly great and ill- 
used Moore was sent into the heart of Spain by 
incapable Ministers, to find, not armies, nor enthu- 
siasm, nor energetic government, nor military aid, 
all of which he had been promised ; but, in their 
stead, the greatest military genius of the world 

* See ante, p. 39. 


(Napoleon) before him, with troops so numerpus 
that their cavalry alone doubled his whole force. 
It is known also with what a mastery of war he 
extricated himself from that raging storm ; with 
what firmness he conducted his retreat ; and how, 
turning at Corunna, he ended his glorious life amid 
the fires of victory." 

It is not enough with, us to deserve success ; 
Moore failed to command it, although he actually 
brought off his army all but intact. His military 
reputation suffered. British public opinion visited 
upon him the faults of the Government, which had 
ordered the advance into Spain, and was really 
responsible for the retreat. There were many 
carping critics in his army, too, who ignorantly 
condemned his conduct, unable to appreciate his 
difficulties or realise the risks he ran. These 
would have had him stand at bay at some point 
like Astorga, still far from the sea, and try con- 
clusions with his pursuers to escape the sufferings 
still in store. The advantages victory offered were 
of course immense, but unless decisive it would 
not end the pursuit ; anything less, indeed, meant 
annihilation or surrender. Napoleon himself de- 
clared that Moore chose the wiser part ; for at 
Astorga the great captain was within striking 

distance, and had not yet turned his command 

2 A